You can’t predict those purpose-affirming moments that often happen in classrooms. All it takes is one comment or thought-provoking question from a precocious student to remind you that making science fun and increasing science literacy is critical and impactful work.
During a recent in-school field trip for 2nd graders at Evergreen Charter School, a clever and brave student had a fantastic contribution to the program, “Sounds Like Fun”, that made my day and enhanced everyone’s experience. The parking lot was adjacent to the schools’ tree-level ropes course and every adult I spoke to let me know where fresh coffee could be found so I knew this would be a good day!
While breaking down sound as vibrations and how our ears translate vibrations into something our brains understand, I use a tuning fork as a visual/audible aid. A student raised his hand to share an experience he had using a tuning fork. It is always a gamble asking for a student to contribute a related anecdote; relevance is subjective. This young man told our whole group about how doctors had used a tuning fork touched to his forehead to help study his hearing and provide the best hearing device which he received the previous week. How cool! I told him, what a great example of vibrations and the tiny bones that help us hear.
Sometimes being different in school can be tough. I think the experience shared by this student took at least a bit of courage, yet he offered it to help explain an abstract concept to peers and ended up being the star of the day. I appreciated his story so much, I shared it with the next class and anyone else who asked how my day went.
High Touch High Tech programs are great for engaging students’ imaginations with hands-on activities but nothing I prepared could have provided the emotional connection to the material this student shared. Students trust what kids their ages say which makes this a story I’ll use every time I teach “Sounds Like Fun”. Something a 2nd grader taught me. How cool!
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.
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.
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
HTHT @ Home Science Experiment to make your own harmonica:
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!