That Sounds Funny!

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Sound is an invisible form of energy generated from vibrations. Sound waves propagate or repeat in a pattern as they travel across mediums.  Sound can travel through air, water, even some solid surfaces like walls.

Make your voice high and then low – did you notice a difference in the vibration? That difference has to do with how fast the vibrations are happening. The speed of the sound wave is the frequency but the sound that frequency produces is called pitch.

When an object vibrates, so does the air around it. Sound and music are parts of our everyday sensory experience. Just as humans have eyes for the detection of light and color, so we are equipped with ears for the detection of sound.

Sound waves go on a bit of a journey for our brains to identify or hear a sound. From the outside of your head sound travels inside your skull before nerve impulses send a message to the brain.

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  • Ear lobe: Your ear lobe and outer ear help direct and funnel the sound waves into your ear.
  • Ear Canal: Is a warm, moist, dark tunnel that goes into your head. The sound waves travel down this tunnel.
  • Ear Drum: Is at the end of the ear canal. Scientists call this the tympanic membrane. When the sound waves hit the ear drum it vibrates. Without the ear drum you would not be able to hear!
  • Ossicles: A tiny chain of bones (the smallest in your body). The vibration travels from the ear drum and vibrates this chain of bones (the hammer/malleus, anvil/incus, and stirrup/stapes).
  • Cochlea: Looks like a spiral and the very last bone in the ossicles knocks on the cochlea, which vibrates the liquid inside and translates it into nerve impulses.
  • Auditory Nerve: At the end of the sound’s journey is this nerve. It picks up the vibration information and communicates it to the brain. The brain interprets the information, so you know if a dog is barking, your mom is calling you, or if a train is going by.

Besides our own voices, humans, throughout
history, have created instruments to make sounds and music for enjoyment and
communication. Instruments work by creating vibrations in a variety of
ways.  You can play an instrument by manipulating the pitch or note you
are generating with the instrument.

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Basically, instruments create vibrations via
the plucking of strings, hitting a surface (percussion), vibrating air in a
tube (horns), or vibrating a small piece of wood called a reed (woodwinds). You
can see each category expressed in an interesting way in cultures all over the

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Join our
HTHT @ Home Science Experiment to make your own harmonica:

Think About It Thursday: Does Wind Make It’s Own Sound?

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Wind actually doesn’t make any sounds until it  passes through or comes into contact with an object! 

On a windy day, a multitude of sounds can be heard outside. One of the most prominent sounds you’ll hear is like whistling, some will sound  like small objects falling / rolling and some sound is like objects rubbing into each other. There are three main contributions to the sound. Each of these is discussed below:

1. Friction- occurs when objects rub over each other. When the air speed increases, the friction over objects increases also. The process of friction can release sound especially as wind speed becomes very high. The friction between air and objects can produce whistling sounds and swooshing sounds.

2. Falling / rolling objects- At higher wind speeds objects are more inclined to fall off of trees and buildings. These objects falling to the ground and rolling along the ground will create sound.

3. Object rubbing- When the wind increases, objects hit up against each other more. This is especially true for vegetation. Higher wind blows trees stems and leaves around more causing them to bump into each other and to create sound. [1]

[1] Meteorologist Jeff Haby – How Does Wind Create Sound –

Think About it Thursday: Why Does Your Voice Sound Different When Recorded?


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Have you ever had someone video tape you and then went to watch said video and wondered is that  ACTUALLY  how my voice sounds? I think we have all had that same thought and hoped that it wasn’t true! Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is exactly how your voice sounds to other people. Here’s why!

While you are speaking, there are vibrations in your skull that are set off by your vocal cords. These vibrations travel to your ear drums and send them vibrating. The virbations as they travel to your eardrums spread out inside your skull and  tend to lower in pitch. This lowering in pitch gives you a false sense of bass, which makes you think that your voice is actually deeper than it really is. When you listen to the recording of your voice sounds a lot higher in pitch. And usually the higher tone makes many people cringe! But don’t worry, it happens to everyone!

Check out this video by  Head Squeeze for more info on this topic!