Human Journey

The Science Behind Speaker-Making

By Ashley Williams

Are you trying to get new speakers in your car but they’re too expensive? Have you ever considered making your own? It’s easy, and the price is right.

For Youth Radio’s latest installment in our science series, Brains and Beakers(or should I say Brains and Speakers?), the Explainers from the Exploratorium came to teach us how to make our own speakers. Being teens themselves, the Explainers can relate to wanting to have music on all the time. So it was exciting when they told us that we can blast our favorite songs whenever we wanted, with just a few items from the local hardware store. All you need are magnets, alligator clips, copper wire, a cone (that could be made out of anything), and of course, a music player.

The Explainers were fielding questions from left and right. “What happens if we play it through the table?” someone shouted out. So the Explainers cleared all their materials and used the table as if it were a speaker box. Everyone crowded around, and pushed their ears right onto the table and to our surprise, the music came through.

Youth Radio reporter, Chantell Williams, stepped up with the next question: “Can you turn your body into a speaker?”The Explainers took the challenge and invited a couple of usto test outa makeshift body-speaker. Eddie Zazueta put himself on the line, and if you listen closely, you can hear the music through his jaw.

The speaker we made may not play as loudlyor as cleanly as the ones in your trunk, but hey, what do you expect from a sound system that you can make in 10 minutes for less than $10?

More from Youth Radio’s science desk here, including past Brains and Beakers: Reinventing musical instrumentsGreen Chemistry, and the Science of Taste.

Youth Radio Investigates is an NSF-supported science reporting series in which young journalists collect and analyze original data with professional scientists, and then tell unexpected stories about what they discover. National Geographic News Watch partners with Youth Radio to share the work of the young journalists with the National Geographic audience. Check out more from Youth Radio’s science desk at

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