STREAM Activity: Tinker a Pan Flute

Design your very own pan flute!

Activity best for children ages 4 and up

 At the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, we love both science and art! One of the best examples that combines both of these subjects is music. The sound that an instrument makes depends on many things like its shape, size, and how it is played. Today we are going to explore the science of sound by making our very own pan flute!

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.21.35 AM


Card stock 

5 straws 

Double sided tape 


Markers or crayons 

Guiding Questions:

 How many instruments can you name? 

What is your favorite instrument to listen to? 

What is your favorite song? 

What instrument would you like to learn to play? 


Step 1

Start by gathering your materials!

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.24.15 AM

Step 2

Use your ruler to measure your straws to cut them to the following length:

6 inches, 5.5 inches, 5 inches, 4 inches, and 3 inches.

*You may need a grown-ups help for this part!

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.27.58 AM

Step 3

Using your ruler again, measure two strips of card stock – 7 inches by 1.5 inches. Cut these strips out and design them however you would like! These will be the outer strips holding together your pan flute.

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.28.24 AM

Step 4

Apply a piece of double-sided tape to both of your card stock strips. From left to right on one strip, attach your straws from longest to shortest. There should be about 3/4 inch of straw hanging over the bottom edge.

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.30.22 AM

Step 5

Place the second piece of card stock on top of your straws, lining it up with your first piece. You are now ready to play your pan flute! What do you notice about the different sounds each straw makes?

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.36.32 AM

Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connections

So Many Sounds by Tim McCanna

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.37.17 AM

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.37.25 AM

Wild Symphony by Dan Brown

Screen Shot 2023 10 13 At 9.37.34 AM

Real World Connections

Listening to music has many benefits to developing minds. It can help with identifying emotions, memory function, and connecting to our bodies! Music is also highly mathematical and can help kids learn through rhythm, beats, scales, and pattern recognition. In Escondido, there are many opportunities to hear lives music, whether it be a children’s music class, a local restaurant, or even at the California Center for the Arts (right down the street from the Museum!).