ALL ABOARD: WE’RE GATHERING STEAM
By laura | Published: January 12, 2021
Make a pan flute using straws, then learn to play it and write your own songs!
- Double-sided tape
- Plastic straws (we used wide straws for boba or bubble tea, but regular straws will also work)
- Permanent marker
- Markers for decorating (optional)
- Take five wide straws and cut them into varying lengths. (For example, 6 inches, 5.5 inches, 5 inches, 4 inches, and 3.5 inches.) Encourage children to measure and cut their own straws.
- Cut two strips of cardstock to 7 inches x 1.5 inches.
- Place a 7 inch (or slightly shorter) strip of double-sided tape onto the inside of one piece of cardstock strips.
- Place the longest straw on the tape first, near the left edge. You’ll want one end of the straw hanging about 3/4 inch over the side. Place the shortest straw on the right hand side of the tape, with the same amount (about 3/4 inch) hanging over the edge. Next place the middle length straw right in the centre. Place the remaining two straws onto the tape. All the ends of the straws should line up about 3/4 inch over one edge of the cardstock.
- Place the double-sided tape onto the other black strip of cardstock and place it on top of your straws, lining it up with the first piece of cardstock. Press down firmly.
- Number each straw, 1 to 5, with a permanent marker. You can decorate the cardstock with markers too, if you want.
- Practice making sounds with your flute by resting the tops of the straws on your lower lip and blowing across them. (You can also make noise blowing right into the straw. That’s fine too, and much easier for younger children.)
Spark Creative Learning!
- Did you create some tunes or songs you like and want to play again? Write down the numbers of each note in order. You can even give your song a name!
- What’s the physics behind making sound from a straw in the pan flute? As you blow across the straw, the air in the straw vibrates. So what you are actually hearing is the air inside of the straw, not the flute itself. You can change the pitch by changing the length of the straw. A long straw produces a low note. A short straw produces a high note.
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