Sound Wave
Light, Sound and Waves

Sound travels

Classroom Activity for 5-11 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Exploring routes taken by vibrations.

This puts the focus firmly on the medium that connects the source and the detector. The physicality of the medium is important, and it will be a good idea to name the solid, liquid or gas through which the vibrations are travelling.

What to Prepare

  • a model ear or a good clear diagram
  • a microphone, linked to a computer running sound-analysing software)

What Happens During this Activity

Choosing context, either a physical one to hand, or a good clear image or diagram. Children should discuss the route that the travelling vibrations follow in their journey from source to detector.

Structuring the activity will depend on the confidence of the children and on the difficulty of the example chosen. You may need to use some prompting questions, such as these:

Teacher: Where do the vibrations start their journey?

Teacher: When we hear the sound, where do the vibrations end their journey?

Teacher: What do the vibrations travel travel through on their route between the source and the detector?

We've found the following focii to be useful:

  • A focus on routes, and what can and cannot be heard
  • Emphasising the link between quieter with distance from source and the spreading of the vibrations.
  • Using very different environments and noises, such as whale song
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