Chicken in a Cup Experiment

We love experimenting with sound. Do you know how sound travels? It’s by vibrations! When you talk, when you bang a drum, even when you walk, vibrations are travelling to your ears. Have a go at making this fun chicken in a cup experiment and annoy your grown ups for hours – it’s science!

chicken in a cup experiment

You will need:

  • A plastic cup
  • A paper clip
  • String
  • Piece of kitchen roll

Method:

  • Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup, big enough to thread your string through. You may need a grown up to help.Chicken in a cup experiment
  • Tie one end of your string to the paperclip.
  • Turn your cup upside down and thread the string through the hole, so the paper clip anchors it to the bottom of the cup.
  • Take your kitchen roll and get it wet.
  • Fold it in half and pinch the string inbetween the wet halves.
  • Keep pinching and pull the paper towel down the string in short, sharp bursts.
  • It should sound like a chicken in a cup!
  • What happens if you move your paper towel down in one movement?chicken in a cup experiment

The Science Bit:

Sound travels by vibrations. If you tried the experiment without the cup the string would still vibrate but it would be almost silent. The cup spreads out the vibrations and amplifies them (makes them louder).

This is like how a guitar works. The vibrations from the guitar strings are amplified by the wooden body of the guitar. this is how a piano works as well!

Why not try:

  • Using a bigger cup – would it make a different sound?
  • Using a different length of string.
  • Using a different type of string.
  • What else can you think of to change?

Did you enjoy this chicken in a cup experiment? Find lots more on our blog and check out our home science kits on our shop.