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Coat Hanger Experiment

Activity Overview

Explore the world of sound waves and vibration with this Coat Hanger Sound Wave Experiment. This experiment is a great one for budding scientists to take time to listen to the world around them. In this experiment, you will use two common household items to create a device which will help you to listen and gauge the differences in sound and vibration of various items made of different materials.

Materials Needed

  • Wire coat hanger
  • Two pieces of string

How to Do It

  1. Tie a piece of string to each end of the bottom of the coat hanger.
  2. Hold one string in each hand and lightly tap the coat hanger against objects that are composed of different materials. Some examples might include things like a metal railing, a wooden play set or fence post, a tree trunk, a vinyl fence etc.
  3. Record the differences between the sounds that are made when the hanger comes into contact with different materials. Which sounds are louder? How does the string feel when you hold it for each one? Which materials when struck cause stronger or weaker vibrations?
  4. If you have older children, have them try wrapping a string around each index finger and putting their fingers in their ears when tapping the hanger against different objects. Just use a note of caution, please do not press your fingers too deeply into your ears. How does this step change the sounds?

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