READING THE WAVES
Grades 4 - 6
From the time we are developing as unborn babies to the day
we die, sounds are all around us. You know sound can be a loud bang or a
symphony orchestra. Yet, have you ever taken time to observe what sounds
are made of? The video segments used in this lesson will reveal the parts
of sound and what factors control sound. The viewing and post-viewing
serve to reinforce the video segments using worksheets and hands-out
The lesson is divided into five one-hour segments.
Minds on Science - "Sound All Around"
Students will be able to:
- explain what a sound wave is and draw one;
- list sounds in their school area and explain what they are made of;
- define the Doppler Effect;
- explain how sound reacts in: air, the absence of air, water;
- explain what makes sound: higher or lower, louder or softer.
Per group of 3 or 4:
- previously used office paper that has one clean side
- rubber band
- Pyrex glass flask
- stopper for flask
- cup hook
- string (6 in)
- tiny bell
- paper cup
- ticking wrist watch
- handouts, provided at end of this lesson (FOCUS FOR VIEWING
for Lessons 1-5, and a Sound Wave Chart)
- pencil or pen
- chart paper and marker
- heat source
- large bell, or cymbal
- stop watch, or wrist-watch with sweep second-hand
- alarm clock
- 10-foot cord
- sound waves
- vocal cords
- Doppler Effect
- bell jar
- light waves
In groups of 3 or 4, have the students list all the sounds
hear in the classroom. Next, go outside and have them continue their list
by writing down the sounds they hear around the school grounds. Once they
are back in the classroom, make a chart comprised of the group lists and
discuss the sounds on the chart.
Discuss what made each sound. Hand out the Sound Wave Chart (attached)
discuss the parts of a sound wave. Finally, discuss and define the
To give a specific focus for viewing, students should be directed to list
what sound sources are presented, and what devices were used to recreate
and record sounds.
On another day, explain that this next video segment presents Kim's
vocal cords, the bel jar and the concept of a vacuum. To provide a
focus for viewing, direct students to look for what transmits sound and
what a sound wave is.
On another day, explain that this segment presents the video recording of
different sounds. To give students a specific focus for viewing, direct
them to list the sounds that will be recorded. They are then to state the
factors that make sounds higher/lower and softer/louder. List differences
between light and sounds waves. Distribute FOCUS FOR VIEWING Worksheet
On another day, explain that the next segment presents the Doppler
To give students a specific focus for viewing, distribute Focus For
Worksheet #4, and tell them to jot down a definition of the Doppler
as they view the video segment.
The final segment explains how certain sound waves can be felt. Students
should be able to explain why loud sounds can hurt you. To give students
a specific focus for viewing, have them turn their attention to how
use sound waves to diagnose and cure medical problems. Distribute Focus
for Viewing Worksheet #5.
START tape. PLAY through the entire program (approximately 15
minutes). Discuss Kim's problem (REWIND the tape to the part
a video of vocal cords). Answer the questions for Focus for Viewing
START at the segment of the program that shows a video of vocal
PLAY through until you reach the end of the explanation of what a
sound wave is.
STOP. Have the students answer the questions on the work-sheet
headed FOCUS FOR VIEWING, Worksheet #2.
RESUME PLAY through to the start of the explanation of the
STOP. Students should answer the questions on the worksheet
headed Focus for Viewing #3.
PLAY through the entire explanation of the Doppler effect.
Students should answer the questions on the worksheet headed Focus for
RESUME PLAY through his segment until the end of the
Instruct students the answer the questions in the worksheet section
Focus for Viewing #5.
This experiment will show that sound waves are vibrations.
Working in groups of 3 or 4, students will hold the ends of a rubber band
by the thumb and index finger of each hand and stretch the rubber band.
Pluck the rubber band and observe the vibrations. Stretch the rubber
some more and pluck again. Note the change of the vibrations and the
of the sound's pitch. Ask each student to record notes about this
in their notebooks.
This experiment approximates the demonstration on using the Bell Jar that
was viewed. (If your school has a bell jar, by all means, use it.)
Tie a tiny bell to a string and tie the other end of the string to a cup
hook. Attach the cup hook to a cork or rubber stopper. Place an inch of
water in a Pyrex glass flask and heat the water to a boil. Remove the
from the heat source. About ten seconds later place the stopper into the
flask and allow it to cool. Shake the flask. Can you hear the bell?
by loosening the stopper so air can enter the flask. Replace the stopper
and shake again. Does the bell sound louder at this time? Record the
of this experiment.
The next experiment proves that sound travels through water.
It also proves that sound travels through water more easily than it does
Fill a balloon with water. Place your ear against the balloon and listen
tot he ticking of a watch by resting the watch on the opposite side of
balloon. Remove the balloon and listen to the watch. Which is louder?
and record the experiment in student notebooks.
This experiment will show that light waves travel faster than sound
Divide the class into two groups. Place the groups 200 yards apart. Give
one group a large bell and a mallet. Give the other group a stop watch,
pencil and paper. Ring the bell. The recording group is to start the
as they observe the bell being struck (view through the binoculars) and
stop the watch when they hear the sound of the bell. Knowing the distance
and time, you can calculate the speed of sound.
This experiment is designed to demonstrate the Doppler Effect.
Tie an alarm clock on a ten-foot cord. Start the alarm clock ringing.
the clock around your head. The pitch of the sound will get lower as the
clock flies away from you and higher as it gets toward you. This is
the sound waves come from the clock faster as the clock moves toward the
listener and are stretched as the clock moves away in the backward phase
of the swing.
This experiment makes a crude stethoscope.
In groups of 3 or 4, students will cut out the bottom of a paper cup.
the hole tot he ear and place the end on someone's chest. The person's
will be heard. Next, hold an ear to the students chest without the aid of
the cup. They will hear the heartbeat but not as loud. This happens
the cup isolates and concentrates the air column that transmits the sound
of the heartbeat to your ear.
- Take a field trip to a hospital and have the sound equipment
- Make an audit of the harmful sounds in school and at home. Come up
with suggestions on how to either reduce the sounds or how to protect
from their harmful effects. Publish an article on harmful noise in the
Make study o the recording industry and have kids explore how sound is
in the recording industry. If your school is near a recording facility
even a radio studio which produces local studio programming), arrange a
Introduce plane geometry and sound waves, and translate the parabola of
the wave into a mathematical equation.
Explore how buildings are built and how acoustical problems are
MOTION PICTURE SPECIAL EFFECTS:
Find our how sound special effects are produced.
Master Teacher: Craig Russell
Mountain Lake Public Broadcasting/Plattsburgh, NY
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online