Kazoos For You

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SWBAT explain how vibrations create sound waves that travel through the air to the ear by making a kazoo.

Big Idea

The students will make a kazoo and experiment with the different sounds that they can get the kazoo to make.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Materials:  Toilet paper tubes, waxed paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, rubber bands

Students will work in teams to each create their own kazoo.  They will then experiment to see the different sounds they can make.  I am choosing Kazoos because they are easy to make and allow for the students to work with a big enough surface that they can put their hands on the end to feel the vibrations.  When you blow into the Kazoo, the wax paper buzzes and vibrates to amplify (make louder) the sound of your voice. The sounds that we hear with our ears are actually “waves” of compressed air. Sound waves occur when air is compressed and then suddenly stopped creating waves of air that vibrate our ear drums to make the signal our brains interpret as sound. All sound is nothing more than waves of air hitting our eardrums.

Our district has not moved toward implementation of the NGSS yet.  However, sound waves is a concept that is in our current curriculum.  I am pushing my students toward the full NGSS expectations of both light and sound waves.  Since it is above what the district requires, I am can push the students to go beyond the expectations.  Below is the district Grade Expectations for this unit.

Grade Expectations:

S1-2:7 Students demonstrate their ability to EXPLAIN DATA by…
  • Developing a reasonable explanation based upon observations (e.g., I found out…).
S1-2:29 Students demonstrate their understanding of Sound Energy by…
  • Investigating different objects, observing and describing the vibrations of those objects and the sounds that are made.

Science Concepts:

      a. Sound is caused by vibrating objects.


5 minutes

"Today you are going to make a kazoo.  The instrument that you will  make will use sound vibrations to make noise.  The vibrations create sound waves that travel through the air.  It is very similar to yesterday where you saw the tuning fork's vibrations cause waves in the water."

"Let's look at this quick video.   Sound waves travel similar to the way the ripples  in the pod traveled across the water.  You are going to use your kazoo to  investigate vibrations that cause sound waves."

The students can easily relate to throwing a stone on a pond and observing the ripples.  This video visual will help put the idea of the sound waves in context.  


20 minutes

"In order to create your kazoo, you will need to get a toilet paper tube, a pencil, a rubber band and a piece of waxed paper.  You will have to poke a hole about two inches from the end of the tube.  Then you will have to wrap the paper around the end of the tube but making sure that you don't cover the hole that you punched into the tube.  The rubber band can be used to keep the waxed paper on the tube."  

"Once you have built your kazoo, I want you to set up your science notebook and set it up for today's entry.  The focus is sound waves.  Then I want you to try and make your kazoo make noise.  Try touching the wax paper as you play it.  What happens?  What does the hole do for the kazoo?  Does it make it easier or harder?  Finally, I want you to record your findings in your notebook.  Draw a picture of it and describe how it works."  

As students are working, I circulate and ask them to explain why their kazoos are working.  I want the students to think about what is happening inside the tube as they play it.  

I list the questions, that I am asking them to answer, on the white board.  This way they can refer to them as they are exploring.  


10 minutes

The focus of today's science circle discussion is that students will understand that vibrations cause sound waves that our ears convert into noise.  

"I would like you to bring your kazoos and  your science notebooks over to the carpet,  I would like you to make groups of three and find a seat.  Once you are with your group, I would like you to discuss why and how the kazoo was making noise.  Make sure that each person gets a chance to talk."

I choose to do groups of three to allow for more dialogue within each group.  I find that three allows for more conversation than two and allows each student to hear another perspective.

"Now I would like you to make one big circle and we will have a quick whole group discussion about what you all discussed."


10 minutes

"Will the sound be affected if your change the wax paper to aluminum foil?  What about plastic wrap?  I would like you to me a prediction in your notebooks and then test each material.  Record your results and let me know if your prediction was correct or not."

This gives the students an opportunity to review the concepts of prediction and variables.  It is important to leap integrating these concepts as I strive for mastery for each student.  


5 minutes

When students are finished, I ask them to use the Science Journal Scoring Rubric to self grade their entry for today.  I am looking to see that the students understand that no matter the material, sound waves are still causing vibrations which are being sent to our brains.