Breaking the Sound Barrier

Contributor
Tom Brown and Kim Boehringer
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Article , Experiment/Lab Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This 2007 "Science and Children" sound article shares ideas and instructional suggestions for four hands-on discovery centers to explore sound titled, 'Tuning Fork Vibrations', 'Rubber Band Guitars', 'Drum it Up' and 'The First Phone'.  Students investigate the provided phenomena before sketching and explaining what they have discovered at that center. The finale to this lesson is a whole class demonstration featuring a  huge trashcan wave generator.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available by subscription - The right to view and/or download material, often for a set period of time, by way of a financial agreement between rights holders and authorized users.

Performance Expectations

4-PS4-1 Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.

Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include diagrams, analogies, and physical models using wire to illustrate wavelength and amplitude of waves.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include interference effects, electromagnetic waves, non-periodic waves, or quantitative models of amplitude and wavelength.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
After working at the centers, the class can discuss their findings at each center and explore the meaning of 'wavelength' and 'amplitude' through their experiences at the centers before honing a precise definition of the concepts. The vibrations from the tuning forks transfer much of their energy to the water, causing it to splash and the rice dances around on the drum. These visuals help the students understand the movement of the energy. After a class discussion, the students can use their new vocabulary terms to record reflections in their science journals.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
An extension to these centers could be a culminating project where the students are given lots of different items (string, rubber bands, plastic cups, straws, index cards, etc.) and asked to CREATE their own model to demonstrate a sound wave. If the student actually comes up with their own idea and creates a model, this will fully address the practice. Another extension idea would be to download a free app, such as n-Track Tuner (http://en.ntrack.com/ios-tuner.php), and have students create a model that can hit a certain pitch. The clarification statement says that examples of models could include diagrams, analogies, and physical models using wire to illustrate wavelength and amplitude of waves.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
By making sounds of varying pitches and volumes, students are learning that waves of the same type can vary in amplitude and wavelength. The teacher needs to stress that the amplitude of the wave determines the volume of the sound in sound waves; the higher the amplitude, the louder the sound. In the trashcan activity, the teacher addresses the concept of wavelength. More details about what a wave is and how to tell when a wave is repeating should be brought into that discussion to address the Disciplinary Core Idea.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The stations have guiding questions that help the students understand that energy is being transferred through the objects. For example, in the drum activity the students are given the guiding question, "What caused the rice to move?" In the tuning fork experiment the article states, "The vibrations from the tuning fork transfer much of their energy to the water, causing it to splash, much to the delight of the students." With the rubber band guitar, the teacher can discuss that the size and thickness of the rubber bands (components) affects the pitch and amplitude of the sound made by the guitar (system).

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: These activities do a good job of letting students explore how sound travels through waves. Amplitude is fully addressed, but additional activities should be used to fully explain wavelength. The teacher will need to introduce the terms 'wavelength' and 'amplitude' and connect the learning to these terms, which is not in the original activities.

  • Instructional Supports: The teacher is given ideas for creating and managing centers, but will need to create the instructions for each center, as well as insert a class discussion to bring in the vocabulary needed for this standard. The final writing piece in which students summarize their learning is differentiated for students who require supports.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The teacher has both observational data and written documentation of what the student is learning. An additional assessment idea would be to have the students draw a model of what happens when (a) a sound gets louder, and (b) the pitch of a sound becomes higher.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: To bring in technology, the teacher might like to use the virtual oscilloscope found at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/resources/s/sound/oscilloscope.asp