How To Make a Homemade Stethoscope

A stethoscope is a device mostly used by doctors to listen to heartbeats.  It was invented by a Frenchman named Rene Laennec in 1817 and has three types: Acoustic stethoscope, which is the most common; Electronic stethoscope, which makes use of electronic amplifiers for better sound detection; and Fetal stethoscope, which is used on pregnant women to decipher to the baby’s heartbeats.  Although different, all three stethoscopes aim to achieve one thing and that is to be able to examine the patients’ hearts and lungs and make sure they are functioning properly.  

A stethoscope is also useful to teach kids about sound waves and how they can travel even in the tightest spaces.  It is for this reason why most young students opt to do homemade stethoscopes as their entries in local science fairs.

Do you want to teach your child how to make one?  Then read on to learn how.

  • Prepare the materials.  The materials that you will need to make a homemade stethoscope are: 1 large funnel, 1 small funnel, a long plastic tube, duct tape, a pair of scissors and a ruler.
  • Prepare the hose.  To make your very own stethoscope, start by measuring about 20 inches of plastic tube.  If you don’t have a plastic tube, you can make use of an old garden hose.  Just make sure you clean it well before using.  Once you finished measuring, cut the tube or garden hose accordingly.  The garden hose might be a little too tough to cut so consider using a sharp knife.  Be very careful.  Do not, under any circumstances, let your kid do the cutting so as to prevent untoward incidents or accidents.   
  • Attach funnels.  Now that you have your tube, get a small funnel and insert it on the end of the tube.  Make sure it fits properly and then seal using a strip of duct tape.  Get the big funnel and attach it on the other end of the tube and seal as well.  Slightly tug each funnel and make sure they are snug and are properly placed.
  • Get ready to play.  Your kid’s stethoscope is now done. To test it, try doing some aerobic exercises such as running or jumping for about 10 minutes.  Ask your kid to firmly place the big funnel on your chest and use the smaller funnel to listen to your heartbeat.  Tell him to count how many beats he can hear in a minute’s time and make him write the data down.   Rest for 5 minutes or until your heart returns to its normal pace.  Ask your kid to “examine” you again by letting him count the number of beats he can hear for one whole minute.  Make him jot the data again and compare the two together.  This is now the perfect way for you to teach your kid about heart rates.  Explain to him why data A differs from data B. Take turns by letting him do an exercise while you get to examine him next so that he will get to feel the difference.  

And there you have it, your very own stethoscope!  Whether it is for science fair or not, making a homemade stethoscope is a great way to bond with your kid and to show him that learning, contrary to what he may believe in, can still be fun and exciting.


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