The Science of the String Phone

Contributor
SciShow Kids
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Animation/Movie , Experiment/Lab Activity , 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 4 minute and 37 second SciShow Kids video discusses how sound is made and how it travels by relating it to making string phones.  It describes how to make a string phone and then how to test it.  It provides students encouragement to try the activity on their own and send in their results to Scishow Kids.

Intended Audience

Learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 1
  • Elementary School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

1-PS4-1 Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.

Clarification Statement: Examples of vibrating materials that make sound could include tuning forks and plucking a stretched string. Examples of how sound can make matter vibrate could include holding a piece of paper near a speaker making sound and holding an object near a vibrating tuning fork.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
To fully meet this Performance Expectation, students need to conduct the activity as directed on the video. Students should then plan and conduct investigations to explore vibrations using different types of materials to provide evidence that sound can make matter vibrate, and that vibrating matter can make sound.

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
The resource gives the support needed for first graders to learn to conduct an investigation. At the end of the video, students are encouraged to try other investigations with the string phone and report back to SciKids. The Practice can be met if time is given for the students to plan and conduct a similar investigation using: different cups, string, yarn, etc.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The video explains that sound makes vibrations and then explains more vibrations and their effect. It uses the activity of the string phone to model the Disciplinary Core Idea. A teacher could use this video as a model for students to learn how to complete the string phone activity and then use the same format to plan and conduct their own investigation. It can also be used as a support for students that are struggling to understand sound. It is important to note that this video goes beyond the scope of the first grade Disciplinary Core Idea. The particulate nature of matter is developed in 5th grade and the idea that sound waves travel through a medium is addressed in High School.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Allowing for ample discussion before and after the video will enable students to make connections to their own, and others' prior knowledge and ideas. The goal of this discussion should be to highlight the causal relationship between vibrating matter and sound, and the corresponding relationship between sound and vibrating matter. The activities are accessible to all learners with little adjustment. The teacher can utilize instructional supports when necessary and allow students to participate and respond at their own level.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: If students are given the time necessary to discuss and then complete the cup and string activity and they also plan and conduct a similar investigation with one changed variable, as suggested in this review, then the resource quality rises to a 3. The focus on this video is to support students in making sense of the phenomenon and to help students experience evidence that supports the learning. It is important to note that this video goes beyond the scope of the first grade Disciplinary Core Idea. The particulate nature of matter is developed in 5th grade and the idea that sound waves travel through a medium is addressed in High School. This resource needs to be used as part of a larger unit exploring waves. It can be used as an introduction, a review of understanding, a unit focus or as a support for learners that are struggling.

  • Instructional Supports: The video gives relevant and accurate scientific information. It is a first step in a progression for first graders to learn how to complete an activity and then design and conduct their own investigation following the same steps while changing a variable. The teacher must be intentional about providing the student discussion time before and after viewing the video. It is recommended that a paperclip be tied to the end of the string so that the string does not pull back through the hole in the cup. Holes need to be poked in the cups before the students begin the activity or extra adult support is needed.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: If the teacher uses the video and the making of the string phones then the Monitoring of Student Progress rises to a 2 as the video and activity in its entirety elicits direct, observable evidence of three‐dimensional learning. Students are using Practices with Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts to make sense of phenomenon to design solutions. The development of pre-assessment and post-assessment for the lesson, a string phone activity rubric, and student journaling throughout the activity are recommended.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The quality of the video is high, and the science is accurate. The video suggests that the students participate in an investigation and asks them to share their findings with the SciKids Website. It is not interactive. It is important to note that this video goes beyond the scope of the first grade Disciplinary Core Idea. The particulate nature of matter is developed in 5th grade and the idea that sound waves travel through a medium is addressed in High School.