Some students think sound needs an unobstructed path to travel at all
Similar to walking through a crowd, rain stopped by an umbrella or a stream stopped by a dam, the students may think the speed of sound will be slower in a solid because there's more 'stuff' in the way.
Resources to Address This
Sounds travelling - not just filling (5-11)
Ref - SPT HS02 TL06
Some pupils talk about sound as if it is something that can fill a space. Sound can only fill a space to the extent that it travels through that space.
Each time you talk about sound, try to emphasise the source–medium–detector model, making it the most natural thing in the world to look for paths along which the sound travels.View Resource
Hearing everyday sounds (11-14)
Ref - SPT So01PN01
Not surprising in some ways… but then again there's something rather fundamental to notice here. The sound starts from the radio's speaker downstairs and reaches you at the top of the house. The sound travels up the stairs, back along the landing and then up along another set of stairs to your lair. Not only could you hear the news up-stairs and down-stairs, but you could probably hear it outside as well.View Resource
The following studies have documented this misconception:
- Mazens, K. & Lautrey, J. () Conceptual change in physics: children’s naive representations of sound, Cognitive Development, 18,
- Wild, T.A., Hilson, M.P. & and S. M. Hobson, () The Conceptual Understanding of Sound by Students with Visual Impairment, Journal of visual empairment and blindness.
- Eshach, H. & Schwartzb, J. L. () Sound Stuff? Naïve materialism in middle-school students’ conceptions of sound. International Journal of Science Education, 28 (7),
- Caleon, I., Subramaniam, R & M. H. P. Regaya, () Revisiting the bell–jar demonstration, Physics Education, 48 (2), Singapore.
- Pejuan, A., Bohigas, X., Jaen, X. and Periago, C. () Misconceptions about sound among engineering students. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21,
- West, E. and Wallin, A. () Students' Learning of a Generalised Theory of Sound Transmission from a Teaching-learning sequence about sound, hearing and health. International Journal of Science Education, 35 (6), Sweden,
- Linder, C. J. () University physics students’ conceptualizations of factors affecting the speed of sound propagation. International Journal of Science Education, 15 (6), South Africa,