STEM students use physics to create wind chimes

Decorative chimes will be sold at upcoming STEM Fest


At the front of Josh Leckman’s classroom hangs a row of wind chimes. No two are alike. One chime has an Alice in Wonderland theme with a black hat placed on top and a teacup hanging in the middle. Another looks as if it is out of a Harry Potter movie, with an owl sitting on top and a Deathly Hallows symbol dangling in the center.

Students handcrafted each of the chimes not for an art class but for a lesson in physics.

“I don’t do simple here,” said Leckman, a high school physics teacher at STEM School and Academy. “There is a whole bunch of science behind it — something as mundane as a wind chime.”

Leckman, who has a degree in physics, wanted to try something new in his classroom — incorporate musical instruments into his physics lessons. After some research, he found that other schools around the country have had success with wind chimes.

A few months ago, Leckman’s students were placed into groups and asked to collect copper pipes and whatever décor was needed for their themes.

Students then cut the pipes to varying lengths and tied a string through the middle at a precise distance from the top and bottom to achieve the right sound. The process demonstrated several physics principles, such as nodes and antinodes, standing waves that create different vibrations and sounds.

Students had to plan what music notes their chimes hit. A small, black tuning machine was used to grade the projects. If the machine read the same note that the students planned, the chime was successful.

Evan Slack and his partner, Lucas Hood, designed their wind chime to play the opening song of the popular sitcom, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

“We just thought it would be a fun little twist, something that draws people into the room,” Slack said as he spun the chime. Out rang a cheery, high-pitched tune.

Alyssa Solana and her group designed their chime to play a light and delicate melody.

“We specifically set it so it sounds whimsical, like birds,” the 10th-grader said.

The wind chimes will be sold at STEM School and Academy’s upcoming STEM Fest on April 1 at 8773 South Ridgeline Blvd. The festival and fundraiser will feature music, art, comics, robots, collectibles, performances and more. The money raised will go toward the school and its students.


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