Learning Aims:
  • Understanding that sounds are produced by vibrations of objects or columns of air
  • Understanding that sound is a form of energy
An elastic ruler (metal, wooden), a rubber band, tuning fork, a drum, a pipe, other musical instruments e.g. guitar, violin, flute etc.
Suggestions for use:

Divide the class into small groups and hand out tuning forks, drums, rulers, and musical instruments. Ask students to produce sounds with given objects.

Then hand out Classroom Material: How sounds are made? (Part I) and let students do investigations. They have to answer a set of questions for each, investigated object. While the students are carrying out the investigations walk around the room asking each group questions to probe student’s understanding. Once they have completed their investigations discuss with them: - how sounds are produced (providing energy), - what is the object doing as it produces the sound (vibrating), - how long does the sound last (as long as the object vibrates), - how the sound can be stopped (by “damping” vibrations), - how to change the properties of the sound (e.g. by changing the characteristics of the vibrating object).

Hand out ,i>Classroom Material: How sounds are made? (Part II). Let students identify what vibrates to make the sound of instruments showed on the pictures. Ask them to come up with other examples of creating sounds.

Possible questions:
  • How does the object produce sound?
  • How energy was provided to the object to produce the sound?
  • What is the object doing as it produces the sound?
  • How long does the sound last?
  • How can you stop the sound?
  • How can you make the sound higher or lower and softer or louder?
  • Do you see the ends of the tuning fork vibrating? Why or why not?
  • How sound is produced by an organ pipe or flute? What vibrates there?
  • How sound is produced by a guitar or violin? What vibrates there?