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Singing Rod

  • Singing Rod
    Singing Rod
    Item #: SNG-100
  • - +
  • Singing Rod 3-Tone Set
    Singing Rod 3-Tone Set
    Item #: SNG-300
  • - +
  • Replacement Bag of Rosin
    Replacement Bag of Rosin
    Item #: SNG-150
  • ~30 g
  • - +
A classic science demo sure to grab your students' attention!

Description

Here's a classic science demonstration that is sure to grab your students' attention... and the people down the hallway... and every dog in the neighborhood! When you run your fingers lightly along this 60-cm-long metal rod, an ear-piercing sound is generated. You control how loud the sound gets, from a whisper to an auditorium-filling shriek. Absolutely incredible! This is a great experiment to demonstrate the difference between longitudinal and transverse waves. Each singing rod comes with instructions and a bag of crushed rosin to lightly coat your fingertips. Set of three consists of rods of lengths 60, 80, and 100 cm.

Video


Lesson Ideas

Download the pdf of this lesson!

When a long metal rod is held in the center with one hand and stroked with the other, a high-pitched sound is produced.

Materials:

  1. Crushed Rosin
  2. Singing Rod, 24-inch (61 cm) aluminum rod: SNG-100
    or
    Singing Rod – Three Tone Set - 24, 30, 36-inch (61, 76, 91 cm): SNG-300

Procedure A:

  1. Firmly hold the center of the aluminum rod horizontally using the thumb and forefinger of one hand.
  2. Pinch and release a small amount of crushed rosin with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand.
  3. Gently stroke the aluminum rod from the center to the end of the rod using your rosin coated thumb and forefinger. Repeat and slightly increase the pressure of your stroking hand until you hear a high-pitched tone. Too little pressure will not set up vibrations in the rod; too much pressure will dampen the sound. It takes practice!

Procedure B:

  1. Firmly hold the aluminum rod vertically at a point that is ¼ the distance from the upper end.
  2. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 in Procedure A until you hear a different pitched tone.

Explanation:
Every material has a set of natural vibrations. When you hold the aluminum rod in the center and stroke it with rosin coated fingers, your fingers slip and stick as they slide along the rod. This causes the rod to start moving with one of its natural frequencies of vibration – a half-wave tone. As you continue to stroke the rod, the vibrations increase and the loudness increases. The node is a place on the object that is not moving. An anti-node is a place on the object with maximum vibration. Touching a node will not dampen the sound; touching an anti-node will.

You can calculate the frequency of the note you are hearing by dividing the velocity of sound in the rod (ca. 5100 m/s for aluminum) by the wavelength which is twice the length of the rod (remember: a rod held in the center vibrates at a half-wave frequency). For the 24-inch aluminum rod, the frequency is about 4200 cycles per sec or Hz.

Frequency = velocity / wavelength = (5100 m/s) / (2 x .61 m) = 4200 Hz

Holding the rod at a point from the end that is a quarter of its length, will produce a higher pitched sound, a full-wave tone, about 8400 Hz.

While holding the rod at one node, touch the other node and notice that the sound is not dampened.

Things to Try:

  1. Clamp the singing rod to a table at one of the nodes, allowing the remainder of the rod free movement. Stroke the rod and notice the difference.
  2. Hold the rod vertically and drop it a few cm onto a hard surface. Then, while holding the rod in the center, hit the side near the end with a hammer. Compare the sounds. Which sound is the same as stroking the rod?
  3. Try holding the rod at different places while stroking.
  4. When the rod is 'singing', where is the sound the loudest? At the ends or the side?
  5. Balance the rod on pencils, placed at the 1/4 and the 3/4 points of the rod. While using fingers to apply pressure on the rod at the points above the pencils, ask someone to gently hit the end of the rod with a hard object such as a small hammer. How does the sound change when you move the position of the pencils?

National Science Education Standards

  • K-4 - Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses (Standard A. 1.3).
  • K-4 - Sound is produced by vibrating objects. The pitch of the sound can be varied by changing the rate of vibration. (Standard B. 2.4).
  • 5-8 - Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with sound (Standard B. 3.1).
  • 9-12 - Waves, including sound, have energy and can transfer energy when they interact with matter (Standard B.6.1).
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Reviews

4 reviews
Andrew
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Jan 25, 2016
It took a little practice, but I got it to the ear-piercing level. Surprisingly simple. Really cool.
Andrew Wallace

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singing rod
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Mar 13, 2013
absolutely great product mystifies students
Don Stokes

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EXCELENTE
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon May 17, 2012
Muy simple de usar, pero impresiona mucho.
Gabriel

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Great Product
Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon Review star icon May 1, 2012
Educational Innovations offers some of the best products for educators. This is great for teaching kids about sound.
Jason L.

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