Boost Your Social Health

Science At Home People and Place, Social Science and Arts

Activity: Build Connections. Talk with someone!

Healthy connections with others around you helps create healthy communities. Research shows that our physical, mental, and emotional well-being improve when we connect with others. Now, more than ever, our social connections and meaningful relationships help us stay healthy.

Science Behind String Telephones

Join one of our OMSI educators, Brad, to learn how to build a low-tech string telephone and how soundwaves travel through a simple piece of string.

Make Your Own String Telephone

In this at-home activity, you can make a string telephone like OMSI educator Brad in the featured video.

Materials Needed

  • 2 paper cups
  • A sharp pencil or scissors to help make holes
    • Depending on your age, you may need an adult to help with the sharp objects.
  • String (kite string and fishing lines work well)
  • Optional: paper clip or washer.

Step By Step Instructions

Use the scissors to cut a long piece of string.

Poke a small hole in the bottom of each cup with a sharp pencil or create a little slit cut with scissors.

Thread the string through each cup and tie knots at each end to stop it pulling through the cup. Alternatively you can use a paper clip, washer or similar small object to hold the string in place.

Move into position with you and a friend holding the cups at a distance that makes the string tight (making sure the string isn’t touching anything else).

One person talks into the cup while the other puts the cup to their ear and listens, can you hear each other?

Questions to Think About

What happened?

How did the sound of your voice travel?

How else can sound travel?

If the string becomes loose, is is the same as hanging up on the other phone?

More For You


Speaking into the cup creates sound waves which are converted into vibrations at the bottom of the cup. The vibrations travel along the string and are converted back into sound waves at the other end so your friend can hear what you said. Sound travels through the air but it travels even better through solids such as your cup and string, allowing you to hear sounds that might be too far away when traveling through the air.

Experiment Extension

Experiment with materials: Different kinds and sizes of cups, different lengths of string, twine, yarn, dental floss, or whatever you have around the house. Or tie in a third string and cup. Will it work?