There are six lessons this month (Lessons 31-36) on sound. Students
build a sound wave detector, construct and test a cup-and-string sound
carrier, and create string, percussion and wind instruments for a class
orchestra. They are given opportunities to work as a member of a group
At the end of these lessons is the third quarter assessment. It should be used after the six lessons for this month are completed.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 31 - Sound
Sound identification test and homework assignment adapted from Sound and Music by Kay Davies and Wendy Oldfield
Identify and list some sounds around them.
Create a poem describing sounds they like and those they do not like.
List some examples of onomatopoeia and create a class poem of onomatopoeic words.
Identify objects by the sounds they make when shaken in a container.
A tape recorder, if available
A 2 pint milk carton or plastic butter tub containing a handful of pennies
For each group of five students: A crayon or marker and three 2 pint milk cartons or plastic butter tubs each containing a handful of everyday items. One container might contain paper clips, another buttons, the third small pencil erasers. Each container is sealed with tape and has a masking tape label on it.
Berger, Melvin. All About Sound. New York: Scholastic, 1994.
Davies, Kay and Wendy Oldfield. Sound and Music. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 1992. Contains lively illustratons, color photos and simple activities for this age group.
DiFiori, Lawrence. What is Sound? New York: Parents Magazine Press, 1973.
Jennings, Terry. Making Sounds. New York: Gloucester Press, 1990. Excellent description of how movement causes sound. Includes information on how sound waves move through solids, liquids as well as air.
To save time, write the poem template on the board before the lesson.
Ask the students to take out paper and pencil. Tell them you'd like to find out how well they listen. Have the students close their eyes, listen carefully to the sounds around them for a minute, then open their eyes and write down at least three sounds they have heard. Have the students share the sounds and list them on the board. Point out that by listening carefully, they identified these sounds even though, most of the time, they probably would not notice them because there are so many sounds around them.
Share with the students a sound you like and a sound you do not like. For example, you may like the sound of rain on an umbrella, but not like the sound of screeching brakes. Have the students create their own poems using the template below:
I like the sound of _______________________________,
the sound of _____________________________,
and of __________________________________.
But I do not like it when I hear the sound of _____________________________.
After some writing time, have a few students share their poems with
the class. Ask the students to, with their voices, imitate the sounds they
have talked about in their poems. For instance, creak for a squeaky
door or chirp for a bird. Write the word onomatopoeia (AHN-oh-mot-oh-PEA-uh)
on the board. Tell the students that onomatopoeia is the formation
of a word that imitates a sound. Point out that tweet and bang
are onomatopoeic words. Ask the students to help you list some other
onomatopoeic words. The list might include thump, ding-dong,
beep, whoosh, crunch, cuckoo, atchoo, meow,
cluck, bow-wow, growl and vroom. Have the students
create a noisy onomatopoeic poem: go around the room and have each child
say an onomatopoeic word. They may think of new ones or use words from
the list. If there is a tape recorder available, record the poem and then
play it back for the students to hear.
Remind the students that when they listed sounds they heard at the beginning of the lesson, they identified what made those sounds. For instance, the honk they heard was a car horn or the slam was a classroom door closing. Shake a container of pennies. Ask: Do you think this container is full of feathers? (no) Of soup? (no) Of sand? (no) How can you tell? (by the sound it makes) Shake the container again and ask the students to tell you something about the contents of the container. They might identify the sound of metal jingling, identify the contents as solid and not liquid and even identify the contents as pennies or coins. Show the students the contents of the container.
Tell the students that they are going to divide into groups to participate in another sound identification test. Divide the class into groups of five students each. Distribute the containers to each group and tell the students that inside each sealed container are everyday items. The items in each container are all of one kind--no mixes. They cannot see the items, but will try to identify them using their ears. Distribute the containers to each group. Tell the students, when they think they know what is inside a container, to write the name of the items on the masking tape label. When groups have finished labeling the containers, have each one come up, show the labels to the class and then open the sealed containers to verify the contents. Keep a tally on the board of successful and unsuccessful identifications for each kind of item. Ask: Which item was hardest to identify by sound? Which was the easiest?
Tell the students that next lesson they will learn about sound waves and make a sound wave detector.
Have the students take a few minutes at home to listen carefully to the sounds around them and then make a list. Ask them to use their lists to make charts of the sounds they heard, classifying them under three headings: machines, living things, other sounds.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 32 - Sound
Build a sound wave detector.
Demonstrate that sounds are vibrations.
Draw a diagram showing a way to prove that vibrations travel out from a sound maker in all directions.
Two pieces of cardboard at least 8 2 inches by 11 inches
Rubberband stretched over an empty tissue box
A dozen dominoes
For each group of five students: coffee can, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, plastic wrap, rubber band, empty milk carton or jug, pencil or ruler, sound detector worksheet (attached)
Ardley, Neil. The Science Book of Sound. New York: Gulliver, 1991.
________. Sound Waves to Music. New York: Gloucester Press, 1990. Includes illustrations of a sound wave detector and sections on directing sound and how vocal cords produce sounds.
Davies, Kay and Wendy Oldfield. Sound and Music. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 1992.
Kettelkamp, Larry. The Magic of Sound. New York: Morrow, 1982.
Parsons, Alexandra. Make It Work: Sound. New York: Thomson Learning, 1992. Includes pictures of sound wave detectors and of how to play a sound direction game.
Peacock, Graham. Sound. New York: Thomson Learning, 1993.
Be sure when blindfolding the volunteer that the blindfold does not cover his or her ears. The cardboard sound catchers can be cut into the shapes of large ears. A row of dominoes can be set up before the lesson begins to save time. Diagrams can be drawn on the back of the worksheet.
Remind the students that last lesson they listened carefully and used their sense of hearing to identify different sounds. Ask: By listening carefully, can you also tell where a sound is coming from? (yes) Ask the students to help you test the sound locating skills of a volunteer. Tell them they must be very quiet so the volunteer will be able to focus on the location of a certain sound. Blindfold the volunteer and have him or her stand in the middle of the classroom. Tell the students that when you point to a student, that student should drum lightly on the desk or snap his or her fingers. Ask the volunteer to then point to the source of the sound. After five or six trials, tell the volunteer to listen carefully because you are going to have a student very softly whisper a name twice. You are going to ask the volunteer to point to the direction of the whisper and tell what name he or she heard. After a few of these trials, ask the volunteer: Is it more difficult to locate the whispers than the snaps and drumming? (yes) Tell the volunteer that you are going to give him or her a pair of sound catchers to help locate the whispers. Place a piece of
cardboard behind each of the volunteers' ears and hold them in place. Try the whisper trial again. Ask the volunteer: Is it easier to hear and locate whispers with the sound catchers? (yes) Remove the volunteer's blindfold and show him or her the sound catchers. Have a few students come up, try out the sound catchers and report on their effectiveness. Ask: What do you think the sound catchers do? Why do you think they work? (They catch sounds and funnel them into our ears.)
Ask: Can we see sound? (no) What do you think sound is? (Accept all answers.) Tell the students that a sound is movement. Ask the students to put their fingers gently on their throats and hum a tune. Ask: Can you feel something quivering or vibrating in there? Tell the students that their sound makers--their vocal cords--are in their throats. Write vocal cords on the board. Tell them that when they talk or shout or sing or hum, their vocal cords move back in forth quickly; they vibrate. Stretch a rubber band over a tissue box and have students pluck the rubber band. Ask: What is the rubber band doing? (It is vibrating and making a noise.) Tell the students that like the rubber band, their vocal cords vibrate and make the air around them vibrate or move, too. The movement creates a wave--a sound wave--that travels to our ears so we hear sound.
Show the students the row of dominoes. Ask: If I push on one domino and make it fall down, what will happen to the next domino and the next and the next? (They will be pushed over, too.) Demonstrate by pushing on the first domino in the row. Ask the students to imagine that the dominoes are tiny particles of air. When the vocal cords vibrate they cause the air particles next to them to move. Those particles move the particles next to them and so on creating a sound wave. Set a few dominoes up and demonstrate again how movement at one end creates a wave.
Blow up a balloon and stretch the neck of the balloon as the air escapes to produce a sound. Ask: What do you think is happening to the rubber in the neck of the balloon as the air rushes out? (It is vibrating and making noise.) Point out that their vocal cords, the rubber band and the neck of the balloon all vibrate. They make the air around them vibrate creating waves of vibration called sound waves. Point out that sound waves travel away from a vibrating object in all directions. Ask the students to imagine dropping a pebble into a puddle and watching the ripples it makes. Draw a dot on the board and concentric circles around it. Tell them that when an object vibrates, the sound waves move away from the object like ripples in a puddle. Tell them that one way to prove this is with a sound wave detector. Divide the class into groups of five students each and distribute worksheets and materials for making a sound wave detector.
When the groups have finished, allow one of the groups to arrange the sound detectors according to their diagram and try to prove that vibrations (or sound waves) move out in all directions from a vibrating object.
How To Build A Sound Wave Detector
Empty coffee can
Piece of plastic wrap
1/4 teaspoon salt
Empty carton or jug
Pencil or ruler
1. Stretch plastic wrap across the top of the empty coffee can.
2. Secure the plastic wrap with a rubber band. Make sure the plastic wrap is stretched tight.
3. Sprinkle salt on the plastic wrap.
4. Stand close to the sound wave detector. Bang on the empty carton or jug a few times with a pencil or ruler to make sound vibrations.
5. Watch the grains of salt closely.
Describe what happens to the grains of salt when you make noise close to the sound wave detector.
Why do you think the salt grains act this way when you make noise near the detector?
Remember that sound waves are waves of vibration that
travel out from a sound maker in all directions like ripples in a puddle.
If you had as many sound wave detectors as you wanted, how could you prove
this? On the back of this page, draw a diagram of what you would do.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 33 - Sound
Demonstrate that sound waves move through solids.
Construct and test a cup-and-string sound carrier (telephone).
Describe what the world might be like without telephones.
Tuning fork and clear glass bowl of water
For each pair of students: two paper cups, 4 to 6-ft length of heavy thread or string, two paper clips, a pencil
Ardley, Neil. Sound Waves to Music. New York: Gloucester Press, 1990. Includes an explanation of why there is silence in space as well as illustrations of how a telephone works.
Broekel, Ray. Sound Experiments. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1983.
Gregoire, Tanya. Museum of Science Activities for Kids. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media, 1996. Contains a well-written description of a call to the pizza shop and how sound waves travels from the vibrations of vocal cords to telephone receiver where sound waves are changed into electrical signals that travel down a phone wire and to the other phone where they enter the ear piece and are translated back into sound waves and heard by the pizza man. In addition to instructions for making a string telephone, this book contains a section on other things to try such as experimenting with a four-way telephone and with different types of string and containers.
Jennings, Terry. Making Sounds. New York: Gloucester Press, 1990. Includes good illustrations of the pin dropping demonstration and string telephone.
Scott, John. What is Sound? New York: Parents' Magazine Press, 1973. Contains a clear explanation of the workings of a string telephone on pages 13-15.
To save class time, you may want to draw the cup-and-string sound carrier diagram on the board before the lesson. Tell the students that a pencil point is a good way to make a small hole in the bottom of the cup for the string. If they tie a paper clip to the end of the string, it will not slip out of the hole.
Remind the students about the domino demonstration in the last lesson. Ask them to describe what happened when you pushed over the first domino. Remind the students that when an object vibrates, it moves air particles around it. Those air particles bump into the ones around them and, just like the dominoes, a wave is created--a sound wave. Place a plastic ruler flat on a desk with most of it overhanging the edge. Hold it down to the desk with one hand and, with the other hand, snap the ruler so it vibrates against the desk. Ask the students to look carefully at the ruler when you snap it to see it vibrate. Ask: What do you think happens to the tiny particles of air around the ruler when I snap it? (The particles of air around it vibrate and bump into other particles creating a sound wave.) Ask: Can you see the air around the ruler vibrate? Snap the ruler and have the students observe that the vibrating air is invisible.
Show the students the bowl of water. Ask: Do you think sound waves can travel through water the same way they travel through air? (Accept all answers.) Show the students the tuning fork and demonstrate how it makes a sound. Hit the tines of the tuning fork against the heel of your hand. Circulate through the classroom and allow students to listen to the vibrations of the tuning fork. Ask students to describe the sound the tuning fork makes. Point out that the vibrations are moving through air. Strike the tuning fork and let the tines touch the surface of the water in the bowl. Ask: What do you see? (ripples) Point out that in a liquid, they can see evidence of vibration waves, the ripples. Ask students if they have ever heard sounds underwater. Perhaps they have put their ears underwater in the bathtub or dove underwater in a swimming pool. Ask them to describe the quality of sounds heard underwater. Tell the students that just as air particles are set in motion by a vibrating object, liquid particles are, too. So sound waves do move through liquids. Sounds travel through liquids about four times as fast as they do through air.
Ask: Do you think sound waves can travel through a solid such as the wood of a desk? (Accept all answers.) Have two volunteers come to the front of the room and stand on either end of a desk or table. Ask: Have you ever heard people say, "It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop?" Show the students a pin and have one of the volunteers drop the pin on the desk. Ask the other volunteer if he or she heard the sound of the pin drop. Have that volunteer put his or her ear flat on the desk and have the other volunteer drop the pin again. Ask the listening volunteer: Was the sound of a pin dropping different when your ear was on the desk and you were hearing it through the wood? (The sound was louder or easier to hear through wood.) Point out that in solids, particles are packed closer together than they are in liquids or gases such as air. When there are vibrations, even ones as small as the ones from a pin dropping, particles that are more crowded together bump into each other more than they do in liquids or air. So sound vibrations actually travel better through many solids. They travel best through metals.
Say: Here is a tricky question. Native Americans who hunted buffalo on the Great Plains were sometimes seen putting their ears to the ground. Knowing what you do about how sound travels through solids, what do you think they were doing? (listening for the sounds of buffalo) Point out that the ground carried the vibrations from the hooves of the buffalo herd to the hunters farther than the air could carry them.
Show the students a piece of thread. Ask: Do you think a piece of thread or string can carry sound vibrations? (Accept all answers.) Draw a picture on the board of how to construct a cup-and-string voice carrier. Be sure to show in the diagram that the string should be taut. Give each pair of students a piece of thread, two paper cups and two paper clips to make and test their own voice carriers. When the students are finished, ask what they concluded from their tests: Can a piece of thread carry sound vibrations? (yes) Point out by using the diagram that talking into the paper cup made the bottom of the cup vibrate. Those vibrations caused the string attached to the bottom of the cup to vibrate. The vibrating string made the bottom of the other cup vibrate so the partner heard what was being said.
Ask: What might be another name for a cup-and-string voice carrier? (telephone) Point out that the telephone they made is a very simple one. Ask: What happened when the string was not pulled tight? (Sound did not travel through the string.) Why do you think the string had to be tight for the telephone to work? (The string would not vibrate when it was loose.)
Tell the students that more than 100 years ago there were no telephones. Ask: What
would the world be like if we had no telephones? (Accept all answers and list them on the board.) Students might point out that without telephones, they could not keep in touch with relatives and friends outside the neighborhood. They could not order pizza. People in offices and businesses would have to write letters to communicate with other business people. It would take much more time for newspapers and news shows to find out what is happening in other parts of the world. People couldn't call a taxi or the doctor. There wouldn't be call in radio shows.
Tell the students that thanks to a man named Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone, today people can talk to friends living on the other side of the world or right down the street. Tell them that next lesson they will hear more about Alexander Graham Bell and his invention. They will also find out the first words said over a telephone.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 34 - Sound
Describe why there is no sound in space.
Classify some sounds according to their volume.
Arrange a series of water-filled glasses according to their pitches and indentify which glass is vibrating the fastest.
Masking tape, six cards or labels describing sounds of various volumes (see Teacher Note)
Four identical clear drinking glasses filled to different levels with water, a spoon
Picture of Alexander Graham Bell from Suggested Books
Ardley, Neil. Sound Waves to Music. New York: Gloucester Press, 1990. Contains a volume chart showing decibel levels of sounds from too soft to hear to painful.
Beech, Linda Ward. Magic School Bus in the Haunted Museum: A Book about Sound. New York: Scholastic, 1995. Includes an illustration of Mrs. Frizzle singing high notes and low notes visually showing the frequency of the sound waves.
Broekel, Ray. Sound Experiments. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1983. On page 32 there is an good explanation of pitch or frequency and an experiment that involves blowing across the mouths of bottles to produce sounds of different pitches or frequencies.
Dunn, Andrew. Alexander Graham Bell. New York: Bookwright, 1991.
Fisher, Leonard Everett. Alexander Graham Bell. New York: Atheneum, 1998. At this writing, Fisher's book is yet to be published but promises to be as excellent as the other highly regarded books by this award-winning author.
Lewis, Cynthia Copeland. Hello, Alexander Graham Bell Speaking. Minneapolis: Dillon, 1991.
Parker, Steve. Alexander Graham Bell and the Telephone. New York: Chelsea, 1995.
Quackenbush, Robert. Ahoy! Ahoy! Are You There? A Story of Alexander Graham Bell. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1981.
St. George, Judith. Dear Dr. Bell--Your Friend, Helen Keller. New York: Putnam, 1992. While for more advanced readers, this book offers a different perspective on Bell and focuses on his work with the deaf. Helen Keller dedicated her autobiography to him.
Labels for the volume line might include: lion's roar, snow falling, breeze blowing, whispers, clock ticking, thunder, lawn mower, jack hammer, brakes screeching, yelling, exposion, rocket launch, siren or alarm, lawnmower, car horn, crunching leaves underfoot, tapping on the door, glass breaking, birds singing, a pin drop, pages turning, a sneeze.
Remind the students that they learned in a previous lesson about light (Lesson 25 - Vision and Optics) that light travels 186,000 miles per second. Ask: Do you think that sound travels at the same speed as light does? (No, nothing is faster than the speed of light.) Tell the students that sound travels much slower than the speed of light. Sound travels at 1,000 feet per second. Point out that we can observe this when a thunderstorm is approaching. We may see a flash of lightning and then several seconds later hear a boom of thunder. It takes longer for the sound to
reach us than for the light flash. Another example of how much faster light is than sound: At a baseball game we may see the batter swing the bat and a split second later, hear the crack of the ball hitting the bat. The sound takes longer to reach us than the light bouncing off the batter.
Say: Light travels through space. We know because we can see the light of distant stars. Here is very, very tricky question. Does sound travel through space? Remember that a vibrating object moves particles around it to make sound waves, but there are no particles of air in space. There are no particles to vibrate and make sound waves. Imagine you are far above the Earth floating in your space suit outside the Space Shuttle. Suddenly a rocket zooms past you. Do you hear a sound? (no) Why not? (because the rocket does not vibrate any particles to make sound waves) There are no sounds in space. Point out that sounds of explosions in space movies such as "Star Wars" are fake. If people were watching an explosion in space, they would not hear any sound. Tell the students that an explosion in space has zero volume.
Tell the students that the volume of a sound is its loudness or softness. Ask them if they have ever seen a button or knob on a T.V., radio or tape player labeled volume. Ask: What happens to the sound when you turn up the volume? (It gets loud.) Write volume on the board and under it a line with soft sounds-low volume at one end and loud sounds-high volume at the other end. Point out that there are many sounds with volumes in between loud and soft. Ask the students to help you place some sounds on the volume line. Have students come up and tape the labels describing different sounds along the volume line where they think the sounds belong. Point out that they have arranged a variety of sounds according to volume.
Tell the students that another way we can describe a sound is by its pitch. Write pitch on the board. Ask the students to sing a high note with you. Now have them sing a low note. Tell them that the first note has a high pitch. To make the high note their vocal cords had to vibrate fast. To make the low note they had to vibrate more slowly. Sounds that have a high pitch, such as a whistle, a squeal, a bird chirping, are made by something vibrating fast. Sounds that have a low pitch, such as the rumble of a truck engine, the boom of a bass drum or a dog growling, are made by something vibrating more slowly.
Show the students four glasses, each containing a different amount of water. Tap on a few glasses with a spoon and ask: Do you hear sounds of different pitches? (yes) Since all the glasses are the same, why do you think they make sounds of different pitches? (different amounts of water) Ask: Do you think you could arrange these glasses in pitch order, from lowest pitch to highest pitch, without tapping them but just by looking at them? Have a volunteer come up and arrange the glasses in pitch order. Have another volunteer verify the order by tapping on each glass with the spoon in sequence. Ask: Are they in pitch order? Point out that the first volunteer arranged the glasses according to the amount of water in them. Demonstrate that the glass with the least amount of water produces a sound of the highest pitch. The glass containing the most water produces a sound of the lowest pitch. Ask: Knowing what you do about pitch and vibrations, which glass is vibrating faster? (The one with the least amount of water.) Which glass is vibrating the slowest? (The one containing the most water.)
Ask the students to name two qualities of sound (volume and pitch) Ask: Can a sound have a high volume and a low pitch? (yes) Ask the students to name a sound that has a high volume and a low pitch. An answer might be a thunderclap. Ask them to name a sound that has a low volume and a high pitch. An answer might be a far-away train whistle or a mosquito buzzing. Ask: What happens as you move away from a sound maker? Does the volume get higher or lower? (lower) Why do you think that happens? (The soundwaves have to travel
farther. The sound loses volume.)
Remind the students that last lesson they made cup-and-string telephones and talked about what the world would be like without telephones. Remind them that today they are going to learn about the very first telephone call. Remind them that Alexander Graham Bell was the man who invented the telephone. Show the students a picture of Alexander Graham Bell from Suggested Books. Tell the students that Alexander (his family called him Aleck) was born in Scotland. From a very early age, Aleck was interested in sound and how we speak. On a trip to London once with his father, he saw a demonstration of a speaking machine. He decided he wanted to make a speaking machine, too. He and his brother built a model of a mouth, throat, nose, tongue and lungs. They pumped air from the model lungs through the vocal cords in the throat and moved the tongue and mouth so that the speaking machine made humanlike sounds. From what he learned, Aleck was able to move the mouth and vocal cords of his pet dog so that the dog would growl words!
Aleck wanted to read everything he could about talking, hearing and sound. He even tried to read books in other languages. One book was by a German scientist. Aleck misunderstood what he read. He thought the scientist had written that there might be a way to send voices through a wire. "What an interesting idea," Aleck thought. "To use electricity to send voice sounds over a wire!" He started experimenting to see if he could do it.
When his two brothers died of an illness and Aleck became sick, his parents moved with him to Canada. When he recovered from his illness, Aleck moved to Boston and began teaching at a school for the deaf. He also continued his work on sending a voice over a wire. By a lucky chance, Aleck met Thomas Watson who worked at a electrical machine shop. Thomas Watson was very good at making things and Aleck was full of ideas. Together they figured out how to change sound vibrations from a voice into electrical signals that could travel quickly through a wire. The wire could carry the signals into an earpiece or receiver where they could be changed back into sound waves that a person could hear. One day, when they were working on their invention, Thomas Watson was in one room and Aleck was working in another, Aleck spilled acid and called out. "Mr. Watson, please come here. I want you." Watson heard Alexander Graham Bell's voice coming through the receiver he was working on. This was the very first telephone call.
Tell the students that Alexander Graham Bell went on to invent other devices including a metal detecting device to find bullets in a person's body, a vacuum jacket to give artificial respiration, a giant kite that could carry a person, and hydrofoils--super-powered boats. His most important invention, however, was the telephone.
Tell the students that they can be inventors, too. Have them describe in a paragraph, draw a diagram of, or build a model of an invention that will make their voice sound louder (increase its volume).
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 35 - Sound
Identify differences in pitch and volume of sounds.
Create string, percussion and wind instruments for a class orchestra.
Demonstrate how pitch and volume can be altered using the created instruments.
A large bottle, a pitcher of water, a pencil
For each member of the drum group: two balloons, scissors, a tin can with both ends removed and no sharp edges, two rubber bands, a wooden dowel or stick, how-to sheet (attached)
For each member of the guitar group: a shoebox or other sturdy cardboard box, scissors, six rubber bands, a wedge-shaped piece of corrogated cardboard to use as a bridge, how-to sheet (attached)
For each member of the maracas group: two paper cups, handful of lentils or beans, masking tape, how-to sheet (attached)
For each member of the pan pipes group; 8 drinking straws, masking tape, scissors, how-to sheet (attached)
For each member of the slide whistle group: a length of narrow diameter pipe, a wooden dowel cut 6" longer than the pipe and slightly smaller in diameter so it can slide inside the pipe, how-to sheet (attached)
A tape recorder
Ardley, Neil. Sound Waves to Music. New York: Gloucester Press, 1990.
Berger, Melvin. All About Sound. New York: Scholastic, 1994.
Davies, Kay and Wendy Oldfield. Sound and Music. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 1992.
Gregoire, Tanya. Museum of Science Activities for Kids. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media, 1996. The section "Noisy Fun" includes instructions for making string telephones, pitch pipes, sonic ears and musical instruments.
Parsons, Alexandra. Make It Work: Sound. New York: Thomson Learning, 1992. Although some of the projects in this book are a bit sophisticated for third graders, the instrument-making projects are inspired.
By giving each group the means to make variations on the same instrument (larger and smaller cans, cups, rubber bands, boxes, pipes) differences in pitch can be observed. Most hardware stores carry copper and brass pipe in narrow diameters as well as plastic pipe. Wooden dowels also come in varying diameters. Remember that dowels should be about 6" longer than the pipe into which they are to fit. The dowel should be as wide as possible, while still sliding easily in the pipe. Many hardware stores will cut the pipe and dowels to your specifications. Be sure that rubber bands are large enough to fit around boxes and cans and that balloons are large enough to fit the largest cans used such as coffee cans. Extra lengths of dowel can be used as drum sticks. Cans used to make drums should have the tops and bottoms removed. Flatten sharp edges with pliers, if necessary.
Remind the students that last lesson they learned about qualities of sound. Ask: What are two qualities of sound? (volume/loudness and softness, and pitch) Show the students a large empty bottle. Blow across the top of the bottle to produce a sound. Ask: Since you know that sound is caused by vibrations, what do you think is vibrating to make a sound when I blow across the bottle? (The air inside the bottle is vibrating.) Ask: Is the sound a high-pitched or low-pitched sound? (low) Since it is a low-pitched sound, is the air vibrating fast or more slowly? (more slowly) Pour some water into the bottle and blow across the top of the bottle again to make a sound. Ask: How has the pitch of the sound changed? (It is a higher pitch.) Add some more water to the bottle and again blow across the top to make a sound. Ask: How has the pitch of the sound changed now? (It is higher than the first or second sound.) Point out that as you add water to the bottle, you are making the air space inside the bottle smaller. The air particles have less room and are vibrating faster. Ask: What happens to the pitch of a sound when particles vibrate faster? (The faster they vibrate, the higher the pitch of the sound.) Point out again that you made the pitch of the sound higher by adding water and reducing the amount of air space in the bottle.
With a pencil, tap gently on the desk. Ask: Is this sound low volume or high volume? (low) Strike the pencil hard on the desk. Ask: How has the volume of the sound changed? (The volume has increased or gone up.) What caused the volume to go up? (You hit the pencil harder on the desk.) Point out that you needed to put more effort into a louder sound. Tell the students that you would like them to very quietly sing a note with you. The note will have low volume. As you raise your hand higher, you would like them to increase the volume of the note, but not the pitch. Try this exercise a few times. Ask: How did you increase the volume of the note? (pushed more air out while singing the note) Point out that they put more effort into a louder sound.
Tell the students that you would like them to demonstrate how to make changes in pitch and volume by creating a class orchestra. For this orchestra, they will make their own instruments.
Write string, wind and percussion on the board. Tell the students that these are the sections of the class orchestra. The names describe what is vibrating and producing sound. Point out that in the string sections, it is strings that vibrate to make sound. Ask: What are the names of some string instruments? (guitar, violin, stand-up bass, harp) Point out that in wind instruments it is air that is vibrating to make sound. Ask: What are the names of some wind instruments? (flute, clarinet, bassoon--trumpet, trombone and saxophone are part of the brass section of the orchestra but are also air-vibrating instruments) Tell the students that percussion means to hit or strike an object sharply. In percussion instruments, the vibrations are caused by hitting something such as the head of a drum and causing it to vibrate. Ask: What are the names of some other percussion instruments? (maracas, cymbals, bass drum, xylophone) Divide the class into groups--three groups making wind instruments, one group making string instruments, and two groups making percussion instruments. Distribute the materials and how-to sheets to each group. Point out that the sheets offer basic suggestions, but if students have other ideas for the design of their instruments using the available materials, they should pursue them.
When the students have completed their projects, have each group demonstrate its instruments. Ask members of the orchestra sections to demonstrate how they can change the pitch and the volume of sounds their instruments make. Ask: When you blow into the pipes or into the slide whistle, what happens to the air inside the instrument? (It vibrates.) What happens when you vibrate air in a shorter pipe? What happens to the pitch? (It goes up.) Ask the string section members: When you pluck the strings of your instruments, how can you raise the pitch of a note? (by stretching a rubber band tighter or by plucking a thinner rubber band "string") If students do not demonstrate this themselves, point out that one can shorten a string by pressing it against the body of the instrument and then plucking it to produce a higher pitched note. Point out that rubber bands and vocal cords vibrate faster when they are pulled tighter. Ask string section members: What happens to pitch when vibrations are faster? (The pitch of a sound goes up when vibrations are faster.) Ask percussion section members: How can you increase the volume of the sounds you make with percussion instruments? (Hit the drum harder./Shake the maracas harder.) Did you discover that all the drums make sounds of the same pitch? (no) What do you think changes the pitch of a drum? (size of the drum head, how tight the drum head is stretched) Ask: Are all the maracas the same pitch? (no) Why do you think they are different? (sizes of the maraca shells are different/more space inside, less space inside)
Tell the students that you would like to make a class orchestra recording. Arrange wind, percussion and string sections. Tell the students that you would like to record three orchestral pieces: the first will be a marching piece, the kind of music one can march to. The second will be a dancing piece. The third will be a piece of music meant to put a baby to sleep, a lullaby. While recording, have the students play their instruments--first percussion to establish rhythm, then adding string section and then wind section. Let the musicians listen to their class orchestra recording.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 35 - Sound
To Make Pan Pipes
1. Use the scissors to cut straws in different lengths.
2. Lay the straws side-by-side on a table and
tape them together.
3. Pick the pan pipes up and blow gently across
the top of each straw to make a sound.
To Make a Slide Whistle
A length of metal pipe
A wooden dowel
1. Pick a wooden dowel that is almost the same width as the pipe.
2. Slide the dowel into the pipe.
3. Blow gently across the top of the pipe.
4. Move the dowel up and down the pipe while
blowing to change the pitch of the sound.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 35 - Sound
To Make a Drum
Tin can with both ends removed.
Two rubber bands
1. Cut off the necks of two balloons.
2. Stretch a balloon tight over the end of a can.
Have a group member help secure it with a rubber band.
3. Stretch a balloon over the other end of the can.
Have a group member help secure it with
a rubber band, too.
4. Use your finger tips or a stick to play the drum.
To Make Maracas
Two paper cups
Handful of lentils or beans
1. Choose two paper cups of the same size.
2. Put a handful of lentils or beans into one of the cups.
3. Turn the other cup upside down and
tape the two cups together, rim to rim.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 35 - Sound
To Make a Guitar
A piece of cardboard
1. Cut a large hole in the lid of a box.
2. Stretch six rubber bands around the box. Make sure
the rubber bands are not touching each other
and that they pass over the sound hole.
3. Use a piece of cardboard as a bridge to lift the
rubber bands away from the box just above the sound hole.
4. Pluck the rubber bands where they pass over the hole.
Pluck them one at a time or strum them.
To Make Jug Pipes
Plastic soda bottles of various sizes
1. Choose two soda bottles of different sizes.
2. Place the bottles side by side and tape them together.
3. Blow across the top of one bottle and then two times
quickly over the other bottle to make an "um-pa-pa" sound.
Third Grade - Science - Lesson 36 - Sound
Sound catcher project adapted from "Sonic Ears" in Tanya Gregoire's Museum of Science Activities for Kids.
Design and test sound catchers.
Demonstrate a word in sign language.
Identify the parts of the ear.
Diagram of parts of the ear for transparency (attached)
For each pair of students: paper or plastic cups, egg cartons, paper, scissors, yarn, masking tape, a safety pin or bobby pin
Picture of sign language for transparency (attached)
Parts of the ear worksheet (attached)
Bender, Lionel. Science Through the Microscope. New York: Alladin, 1995. On page 83 there is an illustration of the inside of the ear and a microscopy photo of the inside of the cochlea.
Billingslea, Kathie and Victoria Crenson. Hearing. Mahwah, NJ: Troll, 1988. Includes sections on how ears hear, how to take care of your hearing and "Do I hear when I am asleep?"
Gregoire, Tanya. Museum of Science Activities for Kids. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media, 1996. Markle, Sandra. Outside and Inside You. New York: Bradbury, 1991. On pages 16 and 17 is a photo of the inside of the ear and of the middle ear bones--the anvil, hammer and stirrup.
Mathers, Doug. Ears. Mahwah, NJ: Troll, 1992.
Parker, Steve. Brain Surgery for Beginners and Other Major Operations for Minors. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1995.
Royston, Angela. The Human Body and How It Works. New York: Random House, 1990.
Rustean, Jean. The Human Body. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993. Discusses how the ear works as well as the part the semi-circular canal plays in balance.
Showers, Paul. Ears Are for Hearing. New York: HarperCollins, 1990.
Walpole, Brenda. Hearing. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 1996.
Remind the students that they have been learning about how sound is made and how it travels. Tell them that in this lesson they will learn how sound is heard. Show the students the transparency of parts of the ear. Point out that sound waves enter the ear canal and travel to the ear drum. Tell the students that the ear drum is a piece of skin about the size of a fingernail on one of their pinky fingers. It is stretched across the inner ear of the ear canal just like a drum head. Remind the students how jumping salt grains on their sound wave detectors showed that sound vibrations were causing the plastic wrap to vibrate. Tell them that sound waves make the ear drum vibrate, too. The vibrations of the ear drum are picked up by tiny bones in the inner ear. These bones are the tiniest bones in the human body. The vibrating bones send vibrations to a coiled-up tube called the cochlea. The cochlea is filled with liquid. Point out the cochlea on the transparency. Tell the students that when the liquid inside starts to shake, it wiggles tiny hairs inside the cochlea. The hairs are connected to nerves that send signals to a big nerve called the auditory nerve. Point out the auditory nerve on the transparency. Tell the students that the auditory nerve then sends messages to the hearing section of the brain so we can recognize sounds. Point out again that sound is vibrations. Sound waves vibrate the ear drum which vibrates the ear bones which vibrate the liquid inside the cochlea which vibrates the hairs in the cochlea which are connected to nerves that send messages to the auditory nerve and on to the brain.
Remind the students that Alexander Graham Bell, when he invented the telephone, found a way to change voice vibrations into electrical signals that could be sent along a wire. Point out that inside the cochlea the same thing happens--vibrations of wiggling hairs are changed into electrical signals that travel along nerves to the brain.
Have the students cup their hands behind their ears. Ask: Do sounds seem louder when you cup your hands behind your ears? (yes) Why do you think that is so? (because hands catch sound waves and funnel them into the ear) Point out to the students that the outsides of their ears are shaped to catch sound waves and funnel the sounds into the inside of the ear. Remind the students that in a previous lesson (Lesson 32) you showed them how sound catchers can help them hear and locate whispers. Tell them that you would like them to design and make sound catchers that will help them hear a low volume sound--the sound of a pin dropping. Divide the students into pairs and distribute materials for making low-volume sound catchers. Tell the students to test their sound catchers by listening for a pin drop with and without the sound catchers. Do the sound catchers work? Remind the students that in order to test the sound catchers, they must maintain a very, very low volume of noise in the classroom. When the students have finished, have pairs who think their sound catchers are the most effective, display them to the class and discuss why they think they are effective.
Remind the students that Alexander Graham Bell taught at a school for deaf people. Ask: What does deaf mean? (unable to hear) Point out that sometimes parts of the ear, such as the tiny ear bones or the hairs and nerves inside the cochlea, are damaged and a person has trouble hearing or cannot hear at all. Deaf people may not be able to hear sounds with their ears, but they feel the vibrations of loud sounds the same way you do. When a truck goes rumbling past or a drummer plays loudly, we can feel the sound vibrations in the ground or the floor with our feet. Deaf people can enjoy music just through its vibrations.
Ask: How do you think people who cannot hear can understand what other people say? (They can read lips.) Point out that by watching very closely how a person is moving his or her tongue and lips, you can tell what sounds he or she is making. Have three volunteers come to the front of the class. Give each volunteer a sentence on a slip of paper such as, Give me the book, Please sit down or What is your name? Tell the students that each volunteer is going to read a sentence without making a sound. They should watch very closely how the readers move lips and tongue and try to determine what each is saying. Write students' lip reading guesses on the board and then have the reader say the sentence out loud. Point out that another way deaf people talk to each other is through sign language. Show the students the transparency of hand signs for the word baby. Point out that each letter of a word may have a hand sign. Have the students spell out B-A-B-Y with you. Point out that in sign language sometimes whole words can be represented by a gesture. Ask: How could you show the idea of baby? Have some students demonstrate. Ask: How could you use your hands to say, I want to go for a walk? How could you use your hands to say You are my friend?
Distribute the worksheet (attached) and have students label the parts of the ear.
Tell the students that there is a famous question that great thinkers have tried to answer.
The question is: If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Say: Knowing what you do about sound, vibrations and hearing, write an answer to this question and explain your answer.
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Billingslea, Kathie and Victoria Crenson. Hearing. Mahwah, NJ: Troll, 1988. (0-816-71006-6)
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Davies, Kay and Wendy Oldfield. Sound and Music. Austin, TX: Steck-Vaughn, 1992. (0-811-43003-0)
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Markle, Sandra. Outside and Inside You. New York: Bradbury, 1991. (0-027-62311-4)
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________. Brain Surgery for Beginners and Other Major Operations for Minors. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook, 1995. (1-562-94604-8)
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