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while you're waiting for the food to come
Great for Science Fair projects!

While You're Waiting for the Food to Come
by Eric Muller, Illustrated by Eldon Doty


To order or find out more about this book,
click on the book cover above or on either cover version.
Go to the Do Science Store


Turn a straw into a musical instrument.


- A straw
- A pair scissors
(Since scissors are not usually available at a restaurant, plan ahead and bring a small pair like the kind on a pocketknife. You might want to grab a few straws from a restaurant and do this trick at home.)

The Recipe:

1. Flatten one end of a straw. One of the easiest ways to do this is to put one end of straw in your mouth. Bite down with your front teeth and pull the straw out of your mouth. Another way to flatten the end of a straw is to rub the straw with a hard object. For example, place the straw on a tabletop and rub the end of straw with the rounded bottom of a spoon.

2. Cut the edges off the end of the flattened part of straw as shown. These angled tips will be the "reeds" of your instrument.

3. Place the reeds in your mouth and blow.


If you don't get a sound on your first try:

  • Blow harder.
  • Try reflattening the end of the straw.
  • Or cut-off the tip of your straw and start again.

For added musical enjoyment, try shortening the straw. Start at the end of straw furthest from your mouth and cut the straw shorter inch by inch while you're blowing. Be careful as you cut, especially as you near your nose!

Listen to an Instrawment

If you haven't heard it yet, click here to hear an "Instrawment" tooting (25K .wav file).
To hear what it sounds like to shorten your "Instrawment," click here (139k .wav file).

Food for Thought:

You just made a reed instrument. As you blow, the trimmed straw tips vibrate. This vibration causes the air molecules to vibrate. Vibrating air molecules are also known as sound waves. As you blow, sound waves travel up and down the straw and also travels to your ear and that's what you hear.

Copyright 1998 Eric Muller
While You're Waiting for the Food to Come - future edition

Original copyright of While You're Waiting for the Food to Come 1995 Eric Muller

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