This is a very simple investigation into making sounds All you need is a drinking straw and some scissors. Gently flatten one end of the straw, then use scissors to cut two equal triangles on either side of the straw. as shown in these pictures.

Blow through the end where you have made the cuts. You may need to experiment to get your lips into the right position – you need to get them over the point where the cut joins the side of the straw. Blow through the straw.

You may need a few goes, but eventually you should get a loud rich note. What is happening is that the triangle shape you have cut vibrates as the air passes over it, and this vibrates the air in the straw to make the sound. A reed in a wind instrument (such as a flute or clarinet) works in the same way.

Try changing the length of the straw. What happens as the straw gets shorter?

We’ve used plastic straws here, and will carefully dispose of them in the recycling. Do paper straws work as well? What about thinner straws?

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