Mooing Bucket

A blue bucket with a cow face painted on, a small plastic cup decorated to look like a chicken, and a white ping pong ball decorated to look like a mouse. Each object has string attached.

What you need

  • Ping-pong ball (mouse)
  • Plastic cup (chicken)
  • Plastic bucket (cow)
  • 3 × 40 cm lengths of string
  • Sticky tape
  • 2 × paper clips
  • Chux cloth
  • Water
  • Black permanent marker

What you do

Squeaking mouse

  1. Tape a length of string to the ping-pong ball.
  2. Draw a mouse face on the ball using the marker.
  3. Cut off a small square of chux cloth and dampen the cloth with a little water.
  4. Hold the ball in one hand and with the other hand, wrap the wet cloth around the string and pull down on the string in jerky movements.

Clucking cup (mooing bucket)

  1. Drill or puncture a small hole in the bottom of the plastic cup (bucket).
  2. Tie a paper clip to one end of a length of string.
  3. Turn the cup (bucket) upside down and thread the string down through the hole.
  4. Tape the paper clip to the bottom of the cup (bucket).
  5. Decorate the cup (bucket) to look like a chicken (cow).
  6. Cut off a small square of chux cloth and dampen the cloth with a little water.
  7. Hold the cup in one hand (hold the bucket under one arm) and with the other hand, wrap the wet cloth around the string and pull down on the string in jerky movements.

Extension: Sing ‘Old McDonald Had a Farm’ but instead of singing the animal noises, play the mouse, chicken and cow instruments.

How it works

The ping-pong ball, cup, and bucket are all made of plastic. When you pinch the string with a wet cloth and pull down, it creates a slip and grip motion which causes the string to vibrate. The vibrations travel up the string and make the ping-pong ball/cup/bucket vibrate. The air surrounding the ping-pong ball/cup/bucket gets bumped and vibrates, creating sound waves. The bucket sounds the loudest because a larger vibrating object makes more air vibrate, making a louder sound.

What to ask

  • Will the chicken be louder than the mouse? Will the cow be louder than the chicken? Do cows make high sounds or low sounds? Close your eyes and tell me what else these instruments sound like.