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Coathanger gong experiment

You will need:

  • 1 Coat hanger 
  • 2 Pieces of string around 30cm in length


  1. Tie the strings to the corners of the coat hanger.
  2. Hold the string in your hands so the coat hanger dangles downward.

    Coat hanger gong
  3. Gently knock the coat hanger on a hard surface - is the sound loud or soft?
  4. Wrap your fingers around each string and place your fingers in your ears.

    coat hanger gong in ear
  5. Repeat the experiment with your fingers in your ear. Does the sound get louder or softer? Why?
coat hanger gong

Sound is produced by vibrations. Vibrations travel faster through solids than they do through liquids or gases.
This is the reason why earthquakes can be detected hundreds of kilometres from their source. Find out how seismographs are used to detect earthquake vibrations at Geoscience Australia

Knocking the coathanger against the surface makes the coathanger vibrate. The vibrations travelled faster to your ear through the vibrating strings because they are solid. For more on the science of sound check out the external link at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

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