Sound: Feel the Vibration

Today we discussed sound and learned that sound travels in longitudinal waves, transmitting the vibrations of an object through a medium (solid, liquid, or gas) to our ears, where our brain interprets the pressure waves as various tones.  Interestingly enough, sound, unlike light, requires a medium to travel through and while we often hear loud explosions during space battles in SciFi movies, this is not scientifically possible because in the vacuum of space there is no medium for the sound wave to move through.

Through a series of activity stations, students got to experience firsthand how sound moves differently through different materials, and how factors such as string tension & thickness and pipe length affect the pitch of sounds in musical instruments. Using simple instruments (rubber-band banjos and pipes), we studied how the vibrations each instrument made were related to its pitch (frequency) and volume (amplitude).  We also learned that sound travels better through solids than through liquids or gases.  Ask your student why this is true (due to the tightly packed atoms of a solid being able to transmit the vibrations or sound wave better).  Students had a blast making noise and learning about sound compression waves!

Additional Information:

Throw on a pair of headphones and check out this fun video to test how “old” your ears are:  How Old Are Your Ears from ASAP Science


El sonido: sintiendo las vibraciones

Hoy discutimos acerca del sonido y aprendimos que el sonido viaja a través de ondas longitudinales, transmitiendo las vibraciones de un objeto a través de un medio (sólido, líquido o gaseoso) hacia nuestros oídos. Luego nuestro cerebro interpreta la presión que ejercen estas vibraciones como distintos tipos de tonos. Es interesante mencionar que el sonido y no así la luz, requiere de un medio para viajar. Así que la próxima vez que estés mirando una película de ciencia ficción y escuches una gran explosión durante una batalla especial, sabrás que esto no es científicamente posible, debido a que el vacío del espacio no es un medio adecuado para que viajen las ondas de sonido.

A través de una serie de actividades, los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de experimentar cómo el sonido se mueve a través de distinto materiales y aprendieron cómo ciertos factores como la tensión de una cuerda y el grosor de una tubería afectan el tono de los sonidos en los instrumentos musicales. Usando instrumentos muy simples (banjos de bandas de caucho, tubos y arpas de vidrio), estudiamos cómo las vibraciones de cada instrumento se relacionaban con su tono (frecuencia) y volumen (amplitudes). También aprendimos que el sonido viaja mejor a través de sólidos que a través de líquidos o gases. ¡Pregúntele a su hijo o hija por qué! (dado que en un medio sólido los átomos se encuentran “apretados”, es más fácil transmitir las vibraciones u ondas sonoras). Los estudiantes se divirtieron muchísimo haciendo ruido y aprendiendo sobre las ondas de compresión de sonido.

Información adicional:

Póngase un par de audífonos y revise este entretenido video de “ASAP Science” para probar “cuan viejos son sus oídos”:


Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Open 7 days INFO
Our Young Pre classroom is for ages. This age group is working