Sound Vibrations

PBS Learning Media
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
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.



This multi-activity lesson allows students to explore how various materials vibrate to make sound. Videos are provided that can be shown to students to enforce the content or used by the teacher to see how to make some of the activities ( such as a kazoo or rubber band drum). Student materials, questions and connections to content are included.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Elementary School
  • Grade 1
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 is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This unit consists of a series of investigations; however, most investigations have their procedure defined. To ensure that the full Performance Expectation is addressed, students should be given time to explore the various materials and plan their own investigation to determine how sound is made. Allowing students to plan their investigation will ensure the full Performance Expectation is met.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Student observations are the data for most of the investigations. For this reason, it would be important for the teacher to create a way for students to record their observations that would allow them to compare and analyze them more systematically. There is a data chart provided for one of the investigations (vibrations through solids and liquids) that could be used as an example for the other investigations.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In order to fully address the Core Idea with these lessons, it is important that all three of the sections are completed. Each delves deeper into the content and allows students to apply their understanding in new ways. For example, the unit starts with an introduction to sounds, moves to visualizing them, and then to testing vibrations through various solids. This progression truly allows for a deeper understanding.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
To strengthen the understanding of the Crosscutting Concept, it is suggested that the teacher keep a "cause and effect" chart for this unit. The anchor chart could be used over the course of the unit to record information on various materials as well as any notes. It would also encourage cause and effect language when describing the phenomena.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The videos in combination with thoughtful progression of the unit make this a superior lesson. Each lesson links to previous lessons and provides a need to engage in the current lesson in order for deep understanding of three dimensional learning to take place.

  • Instructional Supports: The videos provided, along with examples of student journal pages, are great aspects of this unit. The unit provides opportunities for students to express, interpret, and represent their ideas in many ways.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: While there are not formative assessments as part of this unit, there are questions and opportunities for assessment throughout. Pre-assessment questions are suggested as well as formative assessment ideas. A teacher could make formative and summative assessments from the activities.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There are video links to support student learning and lesson planning. Links to PDF documents as well as examples of student work are throughout.