Experiment: Water Xylophone

Updated: Jul 15

By Mei Yee

Science truly surrounds us even in the sounds we hear! Kids love to make noises and sounds and it’s all a part of the physical sciences.


We did some sound science this week and made Water Xylophones! For this, you will need four things.

  1. Water

  2. Food coloring (color of your choosing)

  3. Wooden sticks (we used wooden chopsticks)

  4. And mason jars or glass cups (4 or more)

Simple to set up, it’s kitchen science at its finest with plenty of room to explore and be playful with it.


Each of the girls had four mason jars. So, we filled two and then added food coloring. (They both wanted purple).


Then, they each took one of those jars and dumped about even amounts of water into their other three jars.


We then took a pitcher of water to fill the others with various amounts.


More water equals lower sound or pitch and less water equals a higher sound or pitch. You can then add food coloring to make different colors for each note.


After that, they got to play on their xylophones!


They were fascinated by the different sounds.



EXTRA SCIENTIFIC IDEAS WITH YOUR WATER XYLOPHONE

  • Does tapping the sides of the jars make a purer sound than tapping the tops of the jars?

  • Try adjusting the water levels to create new sounds.

  • Try using different liquids and compare the results. Different liquids have different densities and the sound waves will travel differently through them. Fill two jars with the same amount but with two different liquids and observe the differences!

  • Try using different tools for tapping the glasses. Can you tell the difference between a wood chopstick and a metal butter knife?

  • If you want to get super fancy, you can use a tuning app to raise or lower the water level to match specific notes. We tested out this one a little bit although we are not music experts over here, it’s a fun way to take the experiment a step farther for older kids.

 

You can check out our other science experiments here!



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