Interviewing an Expert

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SWBAT ask questions about sound.

Big Idea

Our school has sound experts... music teachers! Let's see what they can teach us about sound.

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.

Today, students ask questions about sound and learn from an expert...their vocal music teacher!  NGSS Science and Engineering Practice #1 includes asking and answering questions.  Scientists are curious, and first graders are naturals at being curious.  In this lesson, they focus their questions on a specific topic.


10 minutes

The purpose of today's interview is to reinforce that sound makes vibrations.  Now that we have completed an investigation and read texts, it's time to bring in an expert!  Who loves sound more than musicians?!?  I value the opportunity to collaborate with staff members at my school, and this unit provides such a unique opportunity to work with the music teachers!

In today's warm-up, I first motivate students by telling them we'll be talking to a sound expert.  I have them guess who at school they think might be a sound expert.  And then I reveal that we will be able to ask the music teacher about sound and how instruments work to make sounds.

I tell students that they may write as many questions as they would like for the music teacher.  Students write their questions on sticky notes and post them to the whiteboard.  When they finish, I review the questions and send a list of them to the music teacher ahead of the interview.

I actually complete the warm-up a day prior to the interview, to allow time for the music teacher to pull any specific instruments students are curious about.

Check out some of our questions!

A student question & Student question #2 & "How do you change the sound on the instruments?"


20 minutes

The music teacher and I decided to have the interview in the music room, so that she would have access to a number of instruments. 

Students began with their hands up to ask their questions.  The music teacher answered numerous questions, such as

  1. How do vibrations make the sound?
  2. How do instruments make sound?
  3. How do you make the instruments vibrate?
  4. What is pitch?
  5. How do we whistle?

 And, here is her explanation of how large instruments make lower sounds, using xylophones.

Not only did our vocal music teacher completely captivate students, she also employed numerous strategies that engage young learners.  For example, she used hand motions to make sound waves, which helps children get a visual on an invisible phenomena.  She also gave them opportunities to move about the classroom and be hands-on feeling the vibration of a guitar after a strum.  


5 minutes

Coming back to the classroom, we found ourselves with some extra time to close the lesson.  The last question of our interview, "How do we whistle?" was unexpected!  I enjoy supporting science curriculum through incorporation of texts.  Here, I quickly pulled up a favorite fiction text about sound, Whistle for Willie, by Ezra Jack Keats.  In the text, a playful young boy learns to whistle! 

Here it is on YouTube!