The sound cup activity is an interactive, collaborative and fun activity to pair up and introduce students or large group of students, and experiment with sounds through careful listening and observation.
To make students work in pairs, we will need to make 2 identical sets of a single type of sound cup, e.g. make 2 pairs of cups containing straws, 2 pairs of cups containing a penny, 2 pairs of cups that contain a pencil, and so forth. If we want students to work in groups of 4, we will need to make 4 identical sets of a single type of cup, e.g. make 4 pairs of cups containing straws, etc.
We have to do this activity in silence and pass out one sound cup to each student. Ask students to listen carefully to their cups, and then to find the person who has a cup that sounds the same. Have students listen to each other’s cups, and to sit with their sound cup partner when they think they have a match. If the pair of students do not know each other so well, ask them to introduce each other.
This activity can be replicated with students as a part of an experiment with sounds, providing an opportunity to have hands on activity, and improve on their listening and observation skills. This can be done by making the students work together to try to build an identical sound cup using the materials provided in the class. Ask students to put the items such as paper, paper-clip, gravels, sand, pen, eraser, grains, etc. in one cup, then place another cup upside down on top of it and tape the cups together. Make another cup exactly the same way before you start to make a different type of sound cup. Encourage them to talk as they try to make a sound cup that is identical to their own. They may not open their original cups as they try to make a matching sound cup.
Once students have finished building and taping their new sound cup together, have each group present their work. Each group should demonstrate the sound of the original cups, talk about what they noticed and how they decided to make the sound cup that matched their original pair.
The science behind this simple and fun activity is that the plastic cup makes wonderful resonant chambers inside, allowing simple objects to sound very strange. Only through careful observations will students be able to make accurate matching sound cups.
From this simple activity students can learn and venture into the world of investigation and experimentation in fun and exciting ways.