Make an “O-silly-scope”

See the sound of your voice as a light pattern on the wall!


An oscilloscope (oh-sill-oh-scope) is a machine that lets you see sound waves. The sound waves are analyzed and then turned into a picture on a screen, usually a transverse wave where the crests get larger or smaller according to the pitch or the loudness of the sound. Very high sounds will create tiny waves that are close together and low sounds will make large waves that stretch out horizontally.

This “o-silly-scope” is a silly way to see sound waves. There aren’t any fancy parts that translate the sound waves into pictures. This is a direct mechanical to mechanical translation. The sound vibrations of your voice make the stretched balloon vibrate. The mirror stuck to the balloon will also vibrate as a result. The laser pointer bounces off the mirror and lets you see how the mirror is moving. Thus, the sound of your voice will make the laser pointer create a pattern on the wall.


Target audience:  any age

Materials needed: cardboard tube, flat stick, balloon, rubber bands, scissors, cheap laser pointer (dollar shops often sell them), tiny mirror (sold at craft stores), clothespin, optional–colored duct tape

Click here to download a printed copy of the instructions


Here is a video demo of how to assemble the project:


If you’d like to see similar ideas done by other people you might enjoy these videos:



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