Cackling Witch (or Clucking Chicken) Science Experiment

Tonight is 'Weird Science Night' for our Cub Scout Pack. I'm in charge of one of the stations. For my own sanity, I wanted to choose an experiment that wasn't messy, complicated or required any degree of focus. Picture three dozen 6-10 year old boys, in costumes, running around doing science experiments... and you'll probably see why I wanted to keep things simple.

My inspiration came from the Witch Craft Trevor and I made a few years ago.

Perhaps you're familiar with the Clucking Chicken experiment about sound? Well, a clucking chicken and a cackling witch sound pretty similar, so I decided that was just the right Halloween twist to put on this experiment.


Cackling Witch Noisemaker


  • paperclip
  • yarn (affiliate link), approximately 2 feet
  • plastic cup
  • hand drill (affiliate link) or nail 
  • paper towel
  • water


1. Tie the piece of yarn to the paperclip.
2. Use the drill or nail to poke a hole in the bottom of the cup.
3. Thread the loose end of the yarn through the hole. Pull it all the way through until the paperclip stops it.

4. Fold the paper towel to the size of a dollar bill. Moisten it in water.
5. Hold the cup with one hand and the paper towel with the other. Grasp the dangling yarn near the top of the cup, pinching the paper towel around it.
6. Pull downward with a jerking motion. It should sound like a cackling witch!

What’s Happening:

You’ve created a sound board! When you jerk the string, it causes vibrations. These would be almost silent without the cup, but the cup spreads the vibrations and makes them louder. This is the same thing that happens in a piano or a music box – the wood amplifies the sound of the vibrations that we hear as music.


Easy, not messy, and very little need for the kids to listen and focus. Will my sanity be preserved, or will I soon regret providing 38 boys with noisemakers in an enclosed space? How many parents will curse the day I taught their sons to make said noisemakers? Will any of them be speaking to me after the event is over? Or, will the ringing in my ears be enough that I can't tell whether anyone is speaking to me or not? Wish me luck!


  1. Great idea for a Halloween-themed scout project. Cory has been studying sound in his science class.

    I want to make sure I understand Step 5. You said: Hold the cup with one hand and the paper towel with the other. Grasp the dangling yarn near the top of the cup, pinching the paper towel around it.

    I am assuming you are grabbing the yarn from the INSIDE of the cup.... Does it matter where/how you hold the cup? Do you hold it from the rim or the middle? I guess the sound produced might be different depending on where you hold the cup.

    I bet the kids loved this!

    1. Yes, grab the yarn as it dangles BELOW the cup. And yes, I encouraged the kids to hold the cup in different places, pull on the yarn differently (fast, slower, jerking, etc) to see what sounds they could make. It's really amazing how many different sounds you can make. We used identical cups, but different sizes would be fun to try out also.


I moderate comments, so you will not see yours appear right away. Please check back if you had a question; I promise to answer it as soon as I see it. Thank you for taking the time to comment!