The piano is a truly remarkable instrument. You may not be able to tell by looking at it from the outside, but the inside of a piano is incredibly complicated, with hammers, dampers, pedals and strings working together to produce the beautiful vibrations that can easily fill up an entire room. This instrument also lends itself to an array of interesting science fair project ideas.
Many people are aware that the sound emitted by a piano is produced when a hammer hits a string inside. However, fewer people are aware of just how much tension is placed upon these strings. The typical piano has more than 230 strings. All together, these strings are under a combined tension of between 15 and 20 tons. The tension of strings on a grand piano may reach upward of 30 tons. Create a project showing how much tension is produced by these strings. Which strings are under the most tension, the high strings or the low strings?
Acoustics refers to the ability of a medium such as gas or liquid space to transmit sound waves through a space. Create a science project on a piece of Bristol board that presents all the components that contribute to a piano's unique acoustical properties. These components include the tuning pin, the soundboard, the string, the agraffe, the plate, the hitch pin and the bridge. You may also want to include a diagram showing how the piano string vibrates when it is hit by the hammer.
Sound Waves and Tones
Sounds are produced by vibrations in the air. These vibrations can be thought of as waves with different wavelengths. Lower notes are produced by waves with long wavelengths and higher notes are produced by waves with short wavelengths. This is why very low notes on the piano sound less like solid tones and more like low rumbles. Create a project describing how the different wavelengths of sound create the tones associated with them. Try doing this with significant notes on the piano, such as Middle C.
Piano Music and Heart Rates
Our heart rates are determined by a range of factors, including physical exertion and stress. Consider creating a project that measures the effects of different types of piano music on the human heart rate. Use a population of subjects, say 10 or 20 individuals. For more consistent results, use subjects of the same gender and age. Try playing them Beethoven, then Mozart, then Chopin and then show tunes. Use a tape recorder to record their heart rates after each song is finished. Gather the data and formulate a conclusion. Which type of music makes our hearts beat the fastest?
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images