Family Magazine

Squawker Cup

By Jerry At Ays

Cup sound science trick Making science fun for your young scientist is always a bonus!  This is a quick and easy-to-make project that will make their eyes go wide.

All you need is a plastic cup, a button of any size, and some waxed dental floss.

Step one is to pull off about three feet of floss and cut it free.

Step two is to tie the floss to the button.

Step three is to poke a hole in the bottom of the cup and put the floss through so the button is on the inside of the cup.


Well, almost.  You might want to tie another button to the free end of the floss to keep it from pulling out.

Now to give it a try!

Hold the cup in one hand, pinch the floss with your other thumb and forefinger, and run them down the floss.

You’ll hear a loud squawk as do!

As your fingers move down the floss, the wax makes them catch along the way in many tiny starts and stops, making the floss vibrate.

The cup acts as an amplifier, like an old horn speaker from the early radios, making the vibrations surprisingly loud.

I’m sure your young scientist will love it.

From here, of course, you can take another two cups, two more buttons, and some heavy thread to make the old string telephones that we all made as a kid.

Squawker Cup
Explain how, when the string is pulled snug between cups across the room, talking into one cup sends the vibrations of your voice along the string.  In the same way that the squawker works, the other cup makes those vibrations loud enough to hear again.

But do try the squawker cup first. It really will make them smile. If you do, tell us about it below.

And, yes, an old metal coffee can and waxed string will make a great squawker, too!

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