Sound Wave
Light, Sound and Waves

Musical Tea

Enrichment Activity for 5-11 11-14

What you need

  • A teacup or mug
  • A teaspoon
  • Good ears


  1. If you tap the rim of the teacup by the handle, opposite the handle or at the two points half way round the rim, then you hear a low pitched sound
  2. But if you tap the rim of the teacup halfway between those points, you hear a sound that is higher in pitch

Results and Explanation

Tapping the rim causes vibrations around the cup, but at the handle the movement is always at a minimum.

So tapping at the specific points on the rim sets up vibrations with different wavelengths and you hear notes of different pitches, or frequencies.

These experiments have not been specifically safety tested for home use but we believe them to be safe if the instructions are followed. Adult supervision or direction is recommended as appropriate. All experiments are carried out at your own risk.

Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today