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Sound sandwich

Make a "sound sandwich" and discuss what makes the sound.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Sensing, Organ Systems (4, 5, 6)
Physics: Light and Sound (1)
Science topic (2005 curriculum connection): 
Physical Science: Light and Sound (grade 4)
Lessons activity is in: 
  • two large popsicle sticks
  • a small piece of straw, about 2cm long
  • a wide rubber band
  • two small rubber bands
  • optional: a small popsicle stick

Students can be instructed step by step on how to make the sound sandwich.
Or, they are given a model at each table group to replicate - they need to use skills of careful observation and small manipulations.

Make the sound sandwich as follows:
Loop the wide rubber band around one of the large popsicle sticks.
Push the straw piece under the rubber band, near the end of the popsicle stick.
(Optional addition: Lay the small popsicle stick over the rubber band, near the other end of the popsicle stick.)
Lay the second large popsicle stick over the first, sandwiching the straw (and small popsicle stick if used) between them.
Wrap the small rubber bands around the ends, to strap the large popsicle sticks together.
Blow through the large popsicle sticks to make the rubber band vibrate.
(Optional if part of model: Move the small popsicle stick nearer or further from the centre of the sound sandwich, to change the tone of the sound.)

Once they have made it and figured out how to make a noise, ask how they think the noise is made (and how we hear it).
(Blowing makes the band vibrate, which makes air molecules vibrate. The vibration of air molecules spreads out and moves to our ears where it causes the vibration of our ear drum, which leads to the stimulation of neurons in our inner ear.)

Then add nuances of the noise maker:
The sound can be changed by blowing harder or softer (makes the band vibrate at different frequencies, therefore producing a different pitch).
Can you make a sound by sucking air through it?

Detailed instructions at:


Needs revamping so that the gap between the popsicle sticks is wider. It easily stops working when they get a little bent when they get wet from blowing a lot.
Temporary fixes: turn over one popsicle stick so that they bend the other way; double over the straw to make the gap wider.

I modified the Exploratorium method, so that the tone can be easily changed (adding a popsicle stick instead of the second straw).
Younger grades I skipped the small popsicle stick, to make a simpler noise maker.
Some grade 1s were able to copy the model to make their own, with technical help adding the smaller elastic bands at each end.

Grades tested: 
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Despina Petrellis
Rebecca Kargut
Stephanie Coit
Teaching site: 
Bayview Elementary Science Club
Carnarvon Elementary
General Gordon Elementary Science Club
Kerrisdale Annex Elementary
Selkirk Elementary
Activity originally developed and delivered: 

Gordon Elementary Science Club