Sunday, August 16, 2009

a drinking straw oboe

My boy has been really really into the science experiment books lately. He pulls them out and pours over them, often just figuring out from the picture what he's meant to do and finding the things he needs. I help when asked, but I don't generally explain much - other than to answer any questions in a way that is appropriate for a child his age. We homeschool following the waldorf way as much as I can, but in this area we stray somewhat. Science experiments aren't meant for the younger children (he's just turned 7 years old). He's so very driven tho - and it's all his own motivation, so I go with it and he does the experiments and draws his own conclusions most of the time.

The latest one was as you can see in the picture above an "oboe" made of a drinking straw. It took him a while to get the hang of it, but eventually he got it. Mama figured it out a bit sooner with the help of a vague memory of playing the oboe for a year way way back when. It was really fun tho! I found that I could actually play a scale - a wavering one, but a scale none the less.

It was very simple to do. Just take the straw and squish the end flat and trim the end into a curve using a knife, or exacto knife, or even just s small pair of scissors. Then if you want to play different notes just flatten the straw in the other direction and cut little half circles out which once it is unflattened will be the holes you place your fingers on. I made them a bit more like triangle notches into the straw and it worked just fine. I spaced them about an inch apart.

Now getting a sound is a bit tricky - you purse your lips almost as if you just finished sucking a lemon ;) and blow with your lips tight, but not too tight. It takes some fiddling - and might be best if the parent tries it out first so the child can hear what it's meant to sound like. That seemed to really help Sascha figure it out.

He's still young enough that I am not looking to fill his head with facts about how this or that works, to me it's much more important that he just experience things and draw his own conclusions - for now - there is plenty of time as he grows older to take this amazing curiosity he has about science and take it to another level with more structured experiments and an understanding of what is happening and why - just not yet. I consider these experiments to be play as they are completely driven by him and are more about satisfying his curiousity about what will happen then about finding out all the scientific facts. These are the years for playing - there are so few years spent as children - I want my kids to get as much playing in as possible :)

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