Skills Spotlight: The Physics Behind Instruments

To demonstrate their understanding of mechanical waves, particularly sound waves, eighth grade physical science students designed and built musical instruments made out of recycled materials and common hardware items in the makerspace.

After studying the physics behind sound waves and the various ways musical instruments produce sound, students set out to showcase their knowledge by engineering an instrument of their own. The instrument they created had to go a step farther than just producing sound, it had to be capable of producing an eight note scale!

Students used materials and tools available in the makerspace, as well as their understanding of physics, engineering, and math to create, test, and tweak their designs. In the end, each student had to perform a song in front of the class demonstrating their instrument's ability to produce a scale. Science teacher Brandon Saltz emphasized that, for this particular project, the learning is in the process, not the end result. He reflected, "In the end it doesn't really matter if the instrument worked, what matters is that the students understand the physics behind the different types of sounds and are able to apply that knowledge to a thoughtful design."

Please be sure to stop by the main building to see (and play!) these amazing creations in person!

Portrait of a Graduate Connections:


RCDS students practice skills and habits essential for wellness and success in college, in work, and in life, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability.