The Pipes of Pan

Principle of Science: Resonance

Seven graduated lengths of pipe are mounted to form a giant panpipe. Each different length of pipe has its own unique resonant frequency; each length has its own natural pitch. Place an ear near a shorter pipe to hear a higher pitched tone, while an ear placed to a longer pipe will hear a lower pitched tone.

Put a seashell to your ear, so the saying goes, and you can hear the ocean’s roar. What you are hearing is not really the roar of the ocean, but in fact the sound of air resonating, or vibrating, within the shell. Perhaps less well known is that the pitch of this sound changes with the size and shape, specifically length (or depth), of the shell’s interior.

At home, fill glass bottles with different amounts of water and blow over the top of the bottles to explore resonance.