Musical Coathanger

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In this activity, learners turn an ordinary metal coat-hanger into a (very quiet) musical instrument. Learners discover that sound vibrations travel better through tight cotton threads than through the air, and therefore, enhance the volume of the sound. Learners are also encouraged to explore this same concept in the bathtub, using a spoon to see how well sound travels through water. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • wire coat-hanger
  • cotton thread


  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Music


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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


Access Rights:

  • Free access