Cup Speaker

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Make your own speaker with a magnet, wire, and paper cup! If you have a radio with a headphone plug and an old pair of headphones, this is a great tinkering activity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Eight feet (2.5 meters) or more of magnet wire that is 24-gauge or higher (thinner)
  • Piece of sandpaper, a few inches (5–8 centimeters) square
  • C- or D-cell battery (it can be dead; it’s just used to wind the coil)
  • A 1/8-inch (3.5-millimeter) mono phone plug (if you don't want to buy one, you can cut the head gear off a pair of old headphones, but leave the cable intact; any plug that fits into a radio, phone, or other amplified audio device will work)
  • Two alligator-clip leads
  • Scotch tape or masking tape
  • Wire cutter/strippers or scissors
  • One or two donut ­magnets about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter and 1/4 inch (6.4 millimeters) thick
  • Paper cup
  • A working audio device (such as a radio or phone) with headphone plug


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electromagnetic Fields
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Electronics


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Access Rights:

  • Free access