This is another of those fun bits of science that many of us think we understand until we really start to look at it, or even better, try to explain it to someone else. Then we reach a point where it becomes obvious to ourselves, and to our audience, that we don't understand it as well as we thought we did.
I hope that you made your own Whistle Stick, and have been playing...., I mean experimenting with it. I also hope that you spent some time thinking about the science behind the sound that it makes, because that is what we are going to explore this time. For your exploration, you will need:
Today I was playing with sound experiments, and had so much fun with this one that I thought I would share it. It is based on the original phonographs, which used a very similar setup to play recordings of music or voices. They used a large cone to increase the volume of the sound.
This experiment is one that I was reminded of while presenting a teacher workshop on hands-on science in the classroom. We were going over some of the easy, spur of the moment things that you can do for science, and one of the teachers reminded me of this one. It is fun and a bit amazing too.
If you have ever watched a cat preparing to pounce on its favorite toy, you may have seen it wiggle its back legs from side to side just before it leaps. Why do they do that? It would seem that the movement would alert their prey, so there has to be a good reason for the behavior. To understand that, we need to learn a bit about muscles and tendons.