Dissecting Sound!

Dissecting Sound!

This winter unit at SEA the kids are engaging with physical sciences, and the third graders are specifically learning about the physics of sound. Their exploration of sound began with sound identification and learning about components of sound such as sound source, sound discrimination, vibration, frequency, and pitch. This is an interesting unit for the kids because sound is something we are all pretty familiar with. Most people engage with sounds every day, we are immersed in a world of sounds, so much so that we can take sounds (and our ability to hear) for granted.

However, in this unit the kids are engaging with sound in new ways – taking more time to “dissect” sound to better understand the properties that make up what it is that we hear. For example, everyone is familiar with a piano or keyboard – you can see and hear them in stores, during religious services, school assemblies, on television, the radio, or in your own home. However, are you familiar with how a piano’s varied sounds are made? Our students were able to “go under the hood” of a piano and explore what’s exactly going on when someone hits a particular key, plays a song, or simply holds down a foot pedal. What is resonating within the piano? How does the length, density or encasing of a string impact the sound produced? Why exactly does a key at one end of the piano sound strikingly different than a key at the other end? What’s going on?                                                                                                                       

This unit the third graders are asking and answering questions like these. They are engaging with a familiar world, the world of sound, but doing so in new and exciting ways! Studying sound is going to be a fun unit that will focus on making something quite familiar, seem more strange.

Click the links below to spend some time in the world of sound.
First, get better acquainted with why you hear, what you hear……
Then, spend some time with city sounds.

What sounds do you hear (sound discrimination)? What’s making those sounds (sound source)?  How do the sounds vary in terms of tone? Does the pitch influence whether or not you like a sound’s quality? Does listening to the recording with your eyes either open or closed influence what you hear? Why do you think this is?
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