Investigating Sound

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SWBAT conduct an investigation of the properties of sound.

Big Idea

Bang! Ding! Strum! Let's investigate the properties of ~sound~ and ~vibrations~.

Instructional Notes

This unit is broken down into two main parts: sound and light.  For the first half, we are investigating the question, "How do we communicate with sound?"  This essential question incorporates two NGSS standards as we are beginning to investigate the properties of sound and also moving towards the culminating engineering design product. 

  • 1-PS4-1. Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
  • 1-PS4-4. Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.

In the previous lesson, students began planning and conducting investigations of sound.  Today, taking student suggestions, we will provide evidence to prove that sounds make vibrations and vibrations make sounds.

Throughout this unit, I use a KLEWS anchor chart to record our new learning.  This is a science-specific type of KWL chart designed with primary students in mind!  Check out this video I like to call KLEWS chart 101:

 In this lesson, our observations will be recorded under the "E" Evidence and Observations column.  We will use that evidence to arrive at our new learning "L" that sounds make vibrations and vibrations make sound.


5 minutes

The purpose of today's investigation is to show not only that vibrations make sound, but also that sound makes vibrations.  Today's lesson includes four stations that students will rotate between. The four stations are:

  • Tuning forks and cups of water
  • Drums with paper and a few beans or math counters
  • Stretched strings (a classic tissue box guitar)
  • Voice-boxes-- no supplies necessary

In today's warm-up, I connect students to the prior day's conversation.   Students decided that they wanted to investigate multiple sounds and also to see whether the sound cause vibrations or vice versa.  

Yesterday you decided to investigate at multiple stations to verify or prove that all sounds have vibrations.  You also weren't sure if vibrations cause sounds, so we have some additional materials today as well.  Finally, in yesterday's discussion, you decided that to show vibrations you would draw waves.  And, to show sound, you would draw a series of curved lines. 

Also today, I want to clarify the word vibration, which students began using during the prior lesson.  

Friends, today we will add the word "vibration" to the "S" Science section of the KLEWS chart.  We started using the word vibration yesterday.  Let's write the definition, "fast movement back and forth."

Exploration ~ the wave crest

20 minutes

I explain that students will have 5 minutes at each station and I show students the Station Rotation Guides.  First graders need explicit modeling of every step, however, I don't want to personally model each station because I want students to discover the properties!  Instead, by including instruction sheets, students are able to set up the investigations themselves.  I read all instruction sheets to the students on the rug.

This clip shows how I set up the room as students are working in their first station after I read the directions.  And here I explain my classroom arrangement decisions.

  • At the Tuning Fork Station, students hit the tuning forks on the side of the desk or cup.  The vibration causes sound.  Then, students put the tuning fork in the cup of water.  The sound causes vibrations and the water will splash and ripple!  
  • At the Drums Station, students will place a paper on top of the drum and some beans on top of the paper.  They hit the drum, and the vibrations cause sound.  The vibrations cause the paper and beans to move; the sound causes vibrations.
  • Similarly at the guitar station, students strum the guitar, which moves the paper.
  • Finally, at the voice station, students place their hand against their voice box while talking in order to feel the vibrations.

Before releasing students to the stations, I introduce the Investigating Sound Station recording sheet.  Students put the recording sheet on a clipboard to make it easier to travel around the room.  The recording sheet is in both Abode form and Word for editing, in case your materials or stations are different.

I explain that we communicate with sound, and that I will ring a bell to signal students to move to the next station.  While students work, I circulate and check-in.  While talking with students, I ask questions like, "What made the sound?  Did the vibrations cause any other sounds?  How are you recording?"  

Here are some student work samples:


5 minutes

In closing today, we record our observations from the different stations on the KLEWS chart under "E" for Evidence and Observations.  We observed:

  • When we struck the drum, the top vibrates and the beans and paper moved too; it causes vibrations.
  • The tuning fork vibrated and it made the water splash and ripple; it caused vibrations.
  • Our voice box vibrates when we talk; it vibrates our fingers.
  • The guitar strings vibrate and move the paper.

Now, we make the big leap to the science concept, which we record under the "L," Learning, section on the KLEWS chart.  Vibrations make sound and sound can make other materials vibrate.

To reinforce this concept even further, I show a video of a car stereo speaker causing the side mirrors to vibrate.