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SWBAT use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses sound to communicate.

Big Idea

We are going a little old school in first grade today. Today we are "Bringing Back the Land Line!" Students will asked to build telephones using cups and string.

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

Students will work in teams as they build a set of telephones and then figure out how they work.  I start the lesson by demonstrating who to build a set of phones.  Speaking into the cup creates sound waves which are converted into vibrations at the bottom of the cup. The vibrations travel along the string and are converted back into sound waves at the other end so your friend can hear what you said. Sound travels through the air but it travels even better through solids such as your cup and string, allowing you to hear sounds that might be too far away when traveling through the air.  This task will allow students to experiment with the the NGSS standard 1-PS4-1.

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

I start the lesson by gathering the students on the carpet.  I want to get them thinking about the idea of communication by conducting a quick brainstorm.  

"I would like you to give me some examples of how people communicate.  As you give them to me, I will write them on this chart paper."

'Today you are going to make a telephone using cups and some string.  Your job is to create a tool that would allow you to communicate with each other using the concepts of sound that we have been investigating."

The NGSS expects that students can use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.  


20 minutes

Advanced Preparation: each team of kids will need two paper cups, a pencil, and 40 inches of cotton string. 

"I am going to demonstrate how to build your phone.  First you take two cups and poke a hole in the bottom of each one (with a pencil).  Then you feed your string through each hole.  Finally you tie a paperclip onto each end of the string.  This way it won't come out of the cup."

"Once you have made your phone, you will need to work with your partner and try to figure out how to get your phone to work.  Once you get it to work, you will need to explain how and why it works."

"You will need to set up your science notebooks and then draw a picture of your phone.  Then write about who and why does the phone work."

As students are working, I circulate to make sure they can successfully create their phones. However, I don't offer input on how and why they work.  I want the students to have their own ideas as they come to science circle.  As I am circulating, I capture students thinking.  This way I will ask them to specifically share their idea at science circle.  


10 minutes

The students are asked to gather on the carpet for science circle.  The focus of this discussion will be about the students thoughts on how and why the phones worked.  As the teacher, I want to make sure that the idea of vibrating materials make sound and sound can make materials vibrate.  

"I would like you to bring your science notebook over to the carpet.  Please come over and sit for science circle.  I would like to Why phones worked and what you found out about the string on your phones.  Did they work?  Why?  How did the sound travel?"



10 minutes

'To wrap up today's learning, I would like you to watch this video.  The video will explain why the phones work and how they work."  

I am choosing this video to help reinforce why the telephones worked.  It is expected that students understand that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.  


5 minutes

As an exit ticket, I write the following question on the board.  If I used a fine copper wire instead of the string, would the phones still work?  Why or Why not?

I want to see if the students remember that sound is easily conducted through solid mass.  In this case they should realize that the wire would not effect or change the results because it can conduct sound waves.