I was at the doctor with Ali the other day.
I was diagnosed with a nasty chest infection. Ali was fascinated by the doctor’s stethoscope. A stethoscope is that thing-a-ma-jig that hangs around the doctor’s neck. It’s used to amplify heartbeat or to hear if a patient has fluid on the lungs. I did as it turned out.
Anyway, it’s a really important piece of medical kit so I decided to see if we could make a stethoscope at home as a fun science exercise. I remembered I had read that the very first stethoscopes were just rolled up bits of paper and the first proper stethoscope was invented by some French guy, Rene Laennec, back in 1817. It turns out you can tell a lot about a person by their heartbeat!
A quick Google later and I discovered it is possible to make a homemade stethoscope with two plastic funnels (big and small) and some garden hose. Okay, I confess, I didn’t have 3 feet of garden hose lying around my kitchen and when I went to my local hard ware store they told me the shortest piece of plastic hose tubing was THIRTY FEET!
So I decided to cheat a little and use the cardboard roll from inside kitchen roll and attach a small funnel with some duct tape. It worked really, really well.
Stuff you’ll need
- Cardboard roll from kitchen roll.
- One plastic funnel (the ones used for pouring oil into bottles etc…)
- Duct tape.
What to Do
- Insert narrow end of funnel into cardboard roll
- Use duct tape to hold funnel in place
At first, Ali couldn’t hear much so I ran on the spot and up and down the stairs a few times to get my heart rate up. Then she used our home made Stethoscope to listen to my heart thumbing, “Boom, Boom”. Then she squealed “I can hear your heart beat…it’s really loud!”
I used her new found heart curiosity to tell her that a human heart is the size of her fist. It also beats 70-80 times per minute and about 30 million times a year! (I Googled that bit!).
Finally, I got her to run around and I listened to HER heart beat. I racked my brains and remembered something about the heart having four chambers and something about it bringing in blood that needs oxygen and pumping out oxygen-rich blood. This is where it got too complicated so we watched the
Science With Me! heart animation! Whew!
What’s the deal?
The roll and funnel act as a homemade stethoscope by amplifying the sound waves by picking up the vibrations. It’s a crude version of a stethoscope but we definitely had fun making it. It gave me a reason to talk about the heart and why it beats and to watch the Science With Me! heart animation. The only draw back to our home-made “stethoscope” was that Ali started to use it as a MICROPHONE…YIKES! (Not good for my ears).
I’d be interested to hear how all of you got on with making a home-made stethoscope. So feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you…
Science With Mom!
Want to learn more about the Human Heart? Check out the free previews from our Heart Activity Set! You can also download a heart worksheet and heart coloring page to practice what you’ve just learned.