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How A Kazoo Makes Sounds

2.9 based on 8 ratings

Updated on Apr 13, 2010


Physical Science







Safety Issues


Material Availability


Approximate Time

Minutes to construct


To demonstrate how vibration makes sound


  • Cardboard tube, such as an empty toilet paper or paper towel roll
  • Piece of wax paper
  • Rubber band
  • Something to poke, cut or drill a hole into the tube


The kazoo is based on the physics of how vibration makes sound. With a simple kazoo, humming causes a membrane (the wax paper) to vibrate.


Photos/drawings can be provided. A single photo or drawing of a tube kazoo can be used to show how it is made.

Research Questions

  • What causes sound?
  • Why is wax paper needed?
  • Why does wax paper work better than plastic wrap?


  • Vibrate: to shake or pulse
  • Molecules: very small particles
  • Membrane: a thin surface


When you hum into a kazoo, the humming makes a membrane vibrate. For this simple kazoo, the membrane is the wax paper. Humming into the tube makes the wax paper vibrate. That causes the sound you hear. The same thing happens with the strings of a guitar, or the speaker of a radio.

Questions to Start Background Research

  • What is sound?
  • How is the kazoo different from other musical instruments?
  • How is it the same?

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather the materials.
  2. Cut or tear a piece of wax paper large enough to fit over the end of the tube.
  3. Squeeze it over the end so that the wax paper is tight and flat.
  4. Use a rubber band to hold the wax paper on the tube.
  5. Make a hole in the tube near the rubber band.
  6. Hum (do not blow) into the open end.


  1. http://www.sciencekidsathome.com/science_topics/what_is_sound.html#more
  2. http://www.kazoos.com/historye.htm
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazoo
  4. http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.howmove.lp_sound/
Gene B. Williams is a freelance writer with 54 published books and thousands of stories and articles. He has been a science teacher and assistant headmaster at a private school, then senior editor for three educational publishers. One of his newest projects is "Nicker Stories," a delightful and humorous collection of stories about a young boy and his sea dragon.