Backpack Science with Ken Finn: Buzz Like a Bee

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Backpack Science

Backpack Science is a summer series of easy at-home experiments geek dads can perform with their kids while school’s out. It is written by (San Francisco) Exploratorium science educator Ken Finn. This article is #1; you can find the whole series here.

Buzz Like a Bee

My kids and I love to build these buzzy contraptions when other families are over, because the more you have buzzing, the better it sounds. During one visit to the office supply store, my daughters found a really big rubber band, so we brought it home with us and scaled up the activity. We used a wooden ruler with masking tape on the ends and extra index cards. The different versions of the sound machine we built helped my girls discover the basics of pitch.

What you’ll need:

  • craft stick
  • 2 cap erasers
  • index card
  • scissors
  • heavy-duty stapler
  • 2 feet (60 cm) of string
  • wide, long rubber band

How it’s done:

  1. Cover each end of the craft stick with a cap eraser.
  2. Trim the index card so its long edge sits neatly between the erasers. Staple its edge to the stick. It should stick out about 2 inches (5 cm).
  3. Securely tie the string onto the craft stick next to one eraser.
  4. Stretch the rubber band around the stick, from one eraser to the next.
  5. Find a clear space and then swing your humz-o-matic around and around your head.
  6. Can you hear the bees? Experiment: Spin faster and slower, and bend, slit or fold the index card. How does the sound change now?

Buzz Like a Bee, excerpted with permission from Exploralab, 2013, published by Weldon Owen © Exploratorium, All Rights Reserved.

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