Energetic Musical Instruments

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Learners design and create musical instruments from common objects; their challenge is to create an instrument that can make three different tones. They investigate how energy is transferred from their hands to their instrument to create sound. Learners also compare the different instruments to understand how the different designs produce different sounds. Resource contains investigating questions to assess and extend learning.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 10 soap dishes (no lid necessary)
  • 10 plastic bowls (bowls the size of a cereal bowl)
  • 30 rubber bands (10 each of 3 different thicknesses)
  • 5 shoe boxes of any size (they can come with or without the lid)
  • 5 toothbrushes
  • 10 pencils
  • 5 pint sized drinking glasses
  • 3 8.5" x 11"notepads
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Springs (approximately 2-3 inches long)
  • Optional: Whatever other supplies may be easily obtained and used for construction of an instrument


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Hearing
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Music
  • Performing Arts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kempton, Adam

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2013