To begin, have participants each choose a red Sound Cup. Ask people to gently shake the cup they’ve chosen and try to find the person who has a cup that sounds the same. If you want, you can instruct the group to do this exploration without speaking—the sounds of the cups should guide participants to find a match within the group. If participants have trouble finding a match, ask all unpaired people to raise their hands so that they can narrow their possibilities. It is ok if someone ends up with a partner that is not a perfect match.
Once participants have made their best attempts to find their correct partners, have pairs work together to try to build an identical Sound Cup using the materials provided on the trays. No fair looking inside their red cups! They need to build their own blue ones (or whatever two colors of cups you’ve used) by sound only.
Finally, bring the whole group together to share their processes and their findings. Have each pair present their work, demonstrating the sounds of the original cups one at a time, and then the sound of their reconstructed cup. What process did the presenters use to make their own Sound Cup? How well did they match the sound? What do people notice?
At the end of their explorations, many people will want to know if they were “right.” Do not open them up, and instead use the opportunity to emphasize an important principle: In science, it often isn’t possible to appeal to a higher authority or look inside the object we are observing. Instead, we must rely on our own observations and investigations to answer our questions. This is an essential part of the scientific process.