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Lesson Plan Idea: Seeing Sound!

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Children are fascinated by sounds. Whether it’s when a horn honks outside, or when an ever-alluring sound-oriented toy is around! It is therefore no surprise that children are curious about the science of sounds. How does that car’s horn make noise? Why are some sounds low and other ones high? What makes music so pleasant? And most importantly, how does sound work since we can’t see it?

Abigail Flesch Connor’s addresses these questions and more in her latest book Exploring the Science of Sounds. With dozens of activities that look at the scientific side of sound and music, this book is all you need to build a lesson plan perfect for your classroom! Below is one simple activity that shows children how sound waves look and move. Try incorporating it into your science lesson and begin to uncover the scientific wonder of sound!

What You’ll Need

What to Do

  1. Tell the class that you can hear sound, and you’re going to find out whether you can see it too! Lay the newspaper on the floor in the middle of the circle or on a table that all the children can gather around. Set the cup in the middle and fill it with water to very near the top.
  2. Explain that we know that sound can move through air, but water is a liquid. Ask the children if they think sound will move through this liquid. Listen to their answers.
  3. Hit the tuning fork with the mallet very sharply (striking near the top of one of the tines from the corner works best). Touch the fork’s tines to the surface of the water. Hold it with the tines almost horizontal for best results. Touch only the water and make sure you don’t hit the rim of the cup; that will stop the vibration.
  4. The water will vibrate, fizz, and splash out onto the newspaper. Ask the children whether they all saw the water vibrating and splashing. If not, have the children move around and do the demonstration again to let all the children have a good look. If they want to, let the children try the experiment themselves!
  5. Let the children think out loud, discussing whether or not they actually saw sound. When the argument comes to a standstill, tell them they’ll know more as you do more exploring with how sound moves.

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