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Singing Pipe

  • Singing Pipe
    Singing Pipe
    Item #: HS-14
  • - +
  • Matched Pair of Singing Pipes
    Matched Pair of Singing Pipes
    Item #: HS-14A
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Heat one end of the Singing Pipe to produce a loud tone, then 'pour' the sound into a beaker. Amazing!

Description

This heavy, black iron pipe (about 4 lb) has a metal alloy screen fitted into one end. By heating the screen with a flame from a burner for about 10 seconds, the vertical pipe will produce a loud tone for as much as 30 seconds. The noise is produced because certain frequencies of sound from the turbulent flow of heated air resonate within the tube cavity. Turning the tube horizontally disrupts the flow of air and the sound stops; rotating the tube to the vertical position returns the sound. Consequently, it is possible to give the illusion of pouring sound into a beaker and then returning it to the pipe. In addition, a matched pair will produce a clearly audible beat frequency. This incredible demonstration was featured at the 1996 Clemson Biennial DivCHED Convention and at the 1996 NEACT Summer Convention. Full instructions and explanation provided.

Lesson Ideas

Download the pdf of this lesson!

Demonstration:
By heating the metal screen in one end of this vertically held pipe for about 15 seconds, a loud tone is produced for as much as 30 seconds. During this time, if the pipe is rotated to a horizontal position, the sound will stop. When returned to the vertical position, the sound begins again.

Materials:
In addition to the Singing Pipe, you will need a gas flame from a Bunsen burner, Fisher burner, or propane torch.

Procedure:
With the pipe held vertically so that the end with the screen is on the bottom, carefully move the pipe over a gas flame so that the flame enters the pipe. After about 15 seconds, remove the pipe from the flame, and continue holding it vertically. For about 30 seconds, a loud tone is heard and the hot turbulent resonating air can be felt exiting the top of the pipe. Be careful, as the bottom of the pipe nearest the flame can become quite hot. Alternatively, you can pretend to pour the sound out into a container. When the pipe is held horizontally, the sound stops. You can then pretend to pour the sound back into the top of the pipe as you rotate if back to the vertical position. The sound will then return.

Explanation:
The flame heats the special stainless steel screen, which has been inserted into one end of the metal pipe. This glowing hot screen heats the air inside of the pipe, causing hot air to rise, and cool air to enter the bottom end. Because the air passes through many holes in the screen, a turbulent flow pattern of air fills the pipe. The noise is produced because certain frequencies of sound from the turbulent flow of heated air resonate within the pipe cavity. This is similar to the operation of a pipe organ. The longer the pipe, the lower the resonant frequency.

When the Singing Pipe is rotated horizontally, this flow pattern is distributed and air no longer passes through the tube. Returning the pipe to the vertical position returns the sound.

Note: This demonstration was featured at the 1996 Clemson biennial DivCHED Convention and also at the 1996 New England Association of Chemistry Teachers Summer Conference.

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Reviews

2 reviews
Singing Pipe
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon May 6, 2019
While this is more of a physics demonstration than a chemistry demo, we have found in our outreach program that the kids (and adults) are truly amazed when we do it. We use a portable propane torch to heat the inside of the pipe (the end that has a wire screen inside) until the pipe begins to "sing". I once saw someone use this to show that sound can be poured (actually a trick). After the pipe begins to sing, a beaker or cup is held at the top, the pipe tilted as if pouring the sound into the beaker. Then, at the same time, the pipe is raised to its original vertical position while pouring the sound back into the pipe. The pipe sings again!!!! I suggest you wear a pair of heat protective gloves doing this demo because the pipe does get hot. Lots of fun and a good way to get kids thinking about what would cause this phenomena!
Kenneth Lyle

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Students loved this deom
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon May 30, 2012
Easy demo, works every time.
Deena Harper

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