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What Do I Need?
- Cardboard tube (a paper towel roll is okay, but a long tube from gift-wrapping paper is even better. You can also take two or three paper towel rolls and tape them together.)

- Marker

- About 60 1-inch nails

- Tape (masking or packing tape is good)

- Paper

- Rice and/or small beans (uncooked!)

What Do I Do?
1. Paper tubes have a spiral seam. Use a marker to draw dots about half an inch apart, all the way down the spiral seam of the tube. Mark the Tube

2. Poke a nail all the way in at each dot. (Make sure the nails don't pokePush in the Nails through the other side of the tube.) You'll need about 30 nails for each paper towel tube.

3. Wrap tape around the tube to hold the nails in place.

4. Cut two circles of paper just a little bigger than the ends of the tube. Tape one of the circles over one end of the tube. Cover the circle with tape so the whole end of the tube is sealed shut.

5. Put a handful of rice or beans into the open end of the tube. Cover the open end with your hand, and turn the tube over. Add more rice or beans until you like the sound. (Beans will make a harder sound, and rice will make a softer sound.) Tape the End

6. Put the second circle of paper over the open end of the tube, and seal that end shut with tape.

7. Your rain stick is complete. Turn it over and listen to the rain.


What's Going On?
The rain stick is a musical instrument from South America. Traditionally, rain sticks are made from the wood skeleton of a cactus. First, the thorns are pulled off and pushed back through the soft flesh of the cactus. Then the cactus is left in the sun to dry--with the thorns on the inside. Later, the hollow cactus is filled with small pebbles, and the ends are sealed with pieces of wood.

Adapted from The Science Explorer, a book of science activities for families from the Exploratorium, published by Henry Holt & Co., 1996. The Science Explorer series is available at the Exploratorium Store.


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