DIY Science: Chicken Calls

Today at the Greensboro Science Center, we are going to be making chicken sounds from a plastic cup and piece of string! Here is a fun, simple activity that can keep children and adults alike entertained while teaching them some sound science!

For this experiment you will need:

  • A plastic drinking cup
  • Yarn or cotton string (nylon will not work)
  • Paperclip
  • Paper Towel
  • A nail
  • Scissors
  • Water


To make your chicken call, start by asking an adult to use a nail to punch a hole in the center of the bottom of the cup. Cut a piece of yarn about 20 inches long. Tie one end of the yarn to the middle of the paper clip, and push the other end of yarn through the hole and pull it through.  

Dampen a dollar bill-size piece of paper towel and fold it once.

Finally, it’s time to make some noise! Hold the cup in one hand, and fold the wet paper towel around the yarn. Squeeze the yarn-wrapped paper towel and and pull down in short jerks so that the paper towel slides down the yarn tightly. You’ve just made your own chicken call!


What’s Happening?

Sound is a form of energy that causes objects, (liquids, solids, or gasses) to vibrate. Pulling on the taught yarn causes it to vibrate. On its own, you wouldn’t be able to hear a vibrating piece of yarn. However, when you add a cup to the experiment, it vibrates as well, amplifying the sound. Much like pianos, guitars, and other instruments, the cup is also a sounding board which amplifies – or increases – the yarn’s sound!

With a little practice you may be able to make some pretty convincing chicken calls! It is thought that chickens can produce around thirty different calls? How many calls can you make with your DIY Chicken Call?

Make it an experiment:

It is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these ideas to get you started:

  • What types of string (length, width, material) makes the loudest or quietest sound?
  • Does the size or shape of the cup affect the volume of the sound?
  • Are there any other materials that can be used to create sound and volume other than just a paper towel?

Try it and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page using the hashtag #gscscience!

This entry was posted in DIY Science, Science Explained by greensborosciencecenter. Bookmark the permalink.

About greensborosciencecenter

The Greensboro Science Center offers three fascinating attractions in one wild destination! We are the only facility in North Carolina that offers an aquarium, museum, and zoo. Spend the day with us and come nose to beak with playful penguins, get eye to eye with awesome otters, explore the human body, experience Mother Nature’s fury and fun, and encounter exotic animals like gibbons, meerkats, and lemurs!

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