How to Make a Harmonica

Learn how to make a harmonica for a science project with the instructions in this Howcast video.

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Need a cool experiment your child can do for schoolwork or a science fair? Check out the two dozen awesome science projects demonstrated in these videos. The step-by-step instructions make them easy to replicate.

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I love experiments that don't require, really, any materials. For this experiment, it's amazing. Every time you go into the doctor, you could ask your doctor, "Hey, Doc. Could I please borrow a tongue depressor?" All we need is just tongue depressors and rubber bands, and I can show you how amazing sound truly is, and how . . . again, we need a vibration, you need something for the vibration and the air to travel through, and you need an ear. I'm going to make an amazing instrument using nothing but tongue depressors and rubber bands. You sound like a rapper, Rapper Carmello. Step 1, is you take a rubber band. I think a thicker rubber band works great for this experiment. I take this tongue depressor . . . if you wanted to, actually, you can color your tongue depressors so that your harmonicas look amazing. I'm just going to make mine non-colored, but if you wanted to use markers, you can make them colored, make them look fun; could actually look like you store-bought these. Step 1, is take your tongue depressor. Large rubber band for this step. You can take it; very easily just wrap it around your tongue depressor. Just like that. Easy step. Step 2, again, card stock. I don't like typing paper, I don't like computer paper; I like using card stock. It's a little thicker and makes the experiment work that much better. I'm going to cut out a piece, 2 inches; 2" x 2". There's your math measurement. I take it, I'm just going to fold it, fold it, and fold it. I'm going to take the square, and I'm going to fold the square 3 times. I take a piece of tape that I'm just going to roll around so that the tape is sticky on all of its sides. Take the piece that I cut out, put it on the tape. I'm going to take my second tongue depressor, not the one with the rubber band, and I'm just going to tape it, not at the end, I'm going to leave a little bit of space just like that. Now I'm going to do the same thing twice. I'm going to take another 2" square, remember, 2" x 2" x 2"; I'm going to fold it, fold it twice, fold it 3 times. It's exactly the same step. Take another piece of tape. Roll it so that it's sticky on all of its sides. You're going to make this exact . . . it's going to be symmetrical, it's going to look exactly the same, you're just going to do it on the other end. Again, a little bit of space. Now I have that; it looks like you're going snowboarding, but we're not. I'm going to take what I did in Step 1 and Step 2, and I'm going to make a stick sandwich here. I'm going to push it together. Now I'm going to take 2 smaller, thin rubber bands. It doesn't really matter, but I really think if you had a thicker one, its fine, but these thinner ones really, really work best. I'm going to make this really tight. Right over where the paper is, I'm going to take the rubber band, I'm going to rub it around, maybe 6 or 7 times, just so that that end is really tight. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. Again, you're going to make it exactly the same on the other end. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. When you look at this, it doesn't look like much, right? The cool part is, when you speak, the vibrations from your mouth hit the rubber band. The air, all the vibrations are made; amazing sound is heard. The compressed air creates these waves that travel through the air, hit your ear, and you hear music. If you don't believe me, look. Check this out. Breathe in, breathe out. You can even talk into it and make really cool sounds, like . . . Make music. It's awesome, and you made a homemade harmonica using nothing but tongue depressors and rubber bands. How cool is that?

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  • Carmelo the Science Fellow

    Carmelo Piazza has been motivating kids in the world of science for the past 15 years. He is currently an elementary school science teacher and owner of several hands-on science centers in downtown Brooklyn. He is working on his next endeavor, a school where science is at the core of the curriculum. Science is cool!!