Experiment with Musical Water Glasses
Learning to read music can improve your math skills. But can music help you learn science, too?
Sure, it can! Here is a fun and scientific music activity you can do with your child at home. Just fill water glasses with different amounts of water to make music!
Although this activity is simple, it’s a great way to exercise your student’s science skills and musical abilities. There’s even a way to incorporate a quick math lesson. Because this activity can teach many different lessons, you can easily adapt it for different age groups.
Here are some things your child can learn how to do in this activity:
- Use measuring cups (and fractions)
- Create secondary colors from primary colors with food coloring
- Understand and manipulate sound waves
- Experiment with new concepts
- Play different songs on the scale
Below is the Musical Water Glasses Instructographic explaining each step of the activity. Click on the image to view it full-length.
Here are some additional Musical Water Glasses activities to try:
- Fill the glasses by increments of ¼ cup. What do the glasses sound like now?
- Take two glasses and fill each with ¼ cup of water. Add one tablespoon of water to the second glass. Do the glasses sound the same or different when you tap them? Keep adding a tablespoon at a time until you can distinguish the notes. How many tablespoons of water does it take?
- Encourage students to experiment with different types of glass tappers, like a metal spoon, a wooden spoon, and so on. Do different tappers produce different sounds? Which one makes the clearest sound?
- Another interesting way to produce sounds with the same exact setup is to gently glide your finger around the edge of the glass to produce a higher-sounding frequency (your finger should be slightly wet).
- Cut a balloon and make a tight, drum-like head over the glass (or a cup, if you prefer), creating tension by securing the balloon over the glass or cup with a rubber band. Then have your student tap on it with the eraser end of a pencil or pen.
- Have kids try the activity using different types of glasses. You can use regular drinking glasses, wineglasses, and mason jars, for example. Which type of glass makes best sound?
- Give your child a list of songs with simple tunes and have him or her figure out how to play them on the water glasses. This activity encourages your child to learn from his or her mistakes to solve a problem.
- Did you know that sound travels about four to five times faster in water than in air? So, water is actually affecting the speed at which the sound waves are traveling and vibrating.
What else can you do with Musical Water Glasses? Share your ideas!