Surrounded by Sound

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SWBAT explore the effect of varying amounts of water in each glass.

Big Idea

How can the various amount of water in each glass effect the sound?

Setting the Stage

National Science Education Standards

"Sound is produced by vibration and pitch can be varied." In this lesson, students observe how the amount of water in a glass causes the glass to produce varied sounds when tapped with a wooden spoon to hear its pitch. This lesson is imperative because students need to be able able to identity different sounds. They learn that sound can be different pitch, high or low.

Science and Engineering Practice

SP 4 addresses analyzing and interpreting data. Once data is collected it must be presented in ways that reveal patterns and relationships and that allows results to be communicated to others. In this lesson, students use glasses with different amounts of water observe different sounds and record what they observe on a lab sheet. The information the students record reveals patterns in the sounds produced by the glasses.

Prior Knowledge

Students have been exposed to sound in their daily lives (a car horn, school bell, phone ringing). They know that sound is an energy that they can hear. They understand vibration has to occur in order to produce sound and sound can make a high or low pitch.

Junior Scientists:

In my class, my students are called Junior Scientists. They wear lab jackets they created early in the school year to be worn during experiments. I call them junior scientists to encourage them to major in Science and Math related careers. I want them to develop a love for Science and Math. Also, we sing "It Is Science Time" or "I Got A Feeling Song" before each lesson.



10 minutes

At their desks, students sing a song.  This song motivates and engages my Junior Scientists at the beginning of each science lesson. During science lessons, I call my students scientists to empower students and make them dreamers and doers.

“I Can” statement

One student is called to read the “I Can” statement for the day. Using an over-sized microphone, a scientist says, "I can produce various sounds with glasses and water.” Reciting the “I Can” statement motivates the students to engage in the investigation and it allows the students to take ownership of the lesson.

Talk About Sound

Students randomly are called upon to call out words that identify sounds. The instructor stands at the board and use chart paper to create a list of these words. This activity helps the students think about various sounds they have been exposed to.


20 minutes

My students proceed to their group tables when I say "We Are On The Move" and they stand and sing, We Are On The Move. This routine helps my students move to their table with very few distractions. This also helps my auditory learners who enjoy singing as well as my kinesthetic children who enjoy moving.  

When students get to their tables, they begin to assign their roles: a person to lead, record, measure, and report. I assign the leader who is one of my advanced students who possesses, leadership qualities. They put on their group labels with a clothes pin to ensure that I know each child's role.  Students are grouped by abilities to support their learning. I want all my students to take ownership of their learning, so assigning roles permits students to develop confidence in their roles while using their strengths to accomplish their group's goals.  All hands must be on deck.  The groups are reminded of the group rules. The group rules are located at their table so they can reference them.

Students are provided with a "Surround by Sound" lab sheet. The students are asked to predict what kind of sound the glasses produce and record their predictions on the lab sheet. Making predictions encourages students to think about how the amount of water effects the sound the glass produce, and it also makes them curious about the sounds the glass produce. Next, students carry out the investigation. Students pour a different amount of water in each glass (50 ml, 100ml, and 150 ml). Students gently tap side of each glass with a spoon to observe the sound it produces and record what they observe on the lab sheets.


Sound-Student Work


10 minutes

Student Debrief

While groups sit at their tables, I pose these questions: What type of sound did each glass produce? Answers vary: a high sound, a very high sound, a low sound). Why did the glasses produce different sounds? They had different amounts of water. How could you change the sound of the glass produces? By decreasing or adding water

After the discussion, I inform the students sound can be all around you and sounds are different in loudness, soft or loud. Also, sounds are also different pitch, low or high. During the investigation, groups adjust the sounds because of the various amount of water in the glasses.