What Is Sound And How Does It Work?

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SWBAT: Explain the basic factors that contribute to sound

Big Idea

Before students make sound amplifiers for their Smartphone devices, they need to understand how sound works!

Introduce the Purpose

5 minutes

The NGSS stresses 3-dimensional learning, meaning that all three areas, content, crosscutting concepts and practices, should be included in how we assess students.  Having a great engineering challenge will be fun and engaging, but as educators we can do a better job of tying all 3 dimensions together.  

This lesson is intended to give students background content knowledge about sound and amplification prior to engineering smartphone amplification systems.  The CCC Patterns emerges when students are asked to analyze the table that compares temperature of air and how quickly sound travels.  SP6 Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions emerges from this activity when students observe various simulations of phenomena and try to construct explanations of their meaning.

I like to post all of the Sound Amplification Links for students to use on Google Classroom.  Students can then access the links in class or at home, if they need more time.

Introduction to Students

5 minutes

I tell students that they will be apply the information that they gain today to solve an engineering challenge, involving sound, tomorrow.

I explain that I have placed the links that I would like them to use on Google Classroom.

I explain that there will be a hands-on activity with a balloon that I will pass from group to group.  I explain that I would like each group member to place the balloon up against their ear and gently tap on it.  I then would like them to hold a deflated balloon up against their ear and tap on it.  They should record their results in their science notebooks.  Later, we will discuss the results and how it pertains to the information garnered from the websites.

Guided Research of Sound

45 minutes

Students use Chrome Books, 2 per group of 4 students, to research about sound and record all of their research in their science notebooks.  The information will be used to make informed decisions during the design and construction phases of the challenge.

Here are some images of students researching about sound and recording their findings.

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As students are researching, I explain to the group that two balloons will be passed around the room.  One is inflated and the other is not.  Students should predict what they will hear when they hold the balloon up to their ear and tap on the opposite side.

Results: Students see that when there is more air in the inflated balloon the sound is louder.  I want students to realize the importance of a medium without coming out and telling them.  This tactile activity gives students a concrete example of what they are researching.

This photo shows a student experimenting with the balloon.

I then ask students to think about the role that molecules play in the transmission of sound.  We then compare this activity to the website that has them compare steel, water and air.  We have a conversation about why steel is better than the other two.  Answer: It is a solid and molecules in a solid are closer together, so the transmission of sound is better. 

Student will then take this information and apply it to their sound amplification designs tomorrow.