Engineered Music

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In this activity, learners explore how musical instruments are engineered. Learners explore how mass manufacturing impacted the recorder, and then work in teams to design their own musical instrument using easy to find materials. Teams first design their instrument on paper, then build their instrument, and evaluate the strategies employed. The new instrument must be "tunable" and must also be unique from other instruments. Learners will also consider the concepts of patents and intellectual property.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Non toxic glue
  • String
  • Paperclips
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Cardboard tubes (such as from paper towel or toilet paper rolls)
  • Rubber bands
  • Wire
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tape
  • Juice box
  • Wooden dowels


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Public Policy
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Music


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, IEEE,