Fun Science Experiment for Kids – Making Music with Bottles

Creating music with bottles

Photo Courtesy Wesley Fryer

We’ve all seen those “musicians” entertaining people by using wineglasses as musical instruments. But you don’t need fancy glassware to make music! Here’s a party trick turned fun science experiment that displays the properties of sound using plain glass bottles filled with water. With a little tweaking, you can even use it as a science fair project idea and steal the show! Let me show you how it’s done.

Suitable for
Grades 3 – 5

Topic covered
Sound and its properties

You will need
•5 or more identical glass bottles
•Metal spoon, knife or fork

Time required
5 minutes or less to set up the experiment

What to do
•Place the bottles in a row, leaving a gap of four inches between them.
•Now fill them up with water but “stagger” the amount you put into each. Here’s how – The first bottle should contain the least amount of water – say three tablespoons; the second bottle five tablespoons, the third eight tablespoons, and so on. The last bottle must contain the most water. In the end, your bottles will resemble the signal icon bars seen on cellphone screens.
•Your musical instrument is ready for the concert! Tap the fork or spoon or knife on the side of each bottle. Notice how each bottle sounds different? That’s due to the varying amounts of water in each as well as the size and type of bottle used. The best music is produced when you use the same type of bottle. Whether they are soda bottles, beakers or jars, make sure they’re all the same.
•Now try experimenting with ascending or descending scales – you can do this by placing the bottles in order – from the one that produces the lowest pitch to the one that produces the highest.
•You can even tap out a simple melody like Twinkle twinkle little star! For this, you must listen carefully to the pitch produced by each bottle and associating it with the notes of the nursery rhyme. Cool, huh!
•Practice playing until you graduate to more complex music.

How does it happen?
The pitch produced by each bottle depends on the amount of water in it. Bottles with more water will produce lower pitches and vice versa. Sound vibrations are produced by the bottle and it takes on greater vibrating mass as you add water to it. Bottles with less water have less weight to produce vibrations with and therefore produce high pitched sounds.


I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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