Sound Wave
Light, Sound and Waves

Thinking about actions to take: Describing Sound

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

There's a good chance you could improve your teaching if you were to:

Try these

  • make explicit use of the source–medium–detector model
  • model the vibrations as changes in density
  • link the movements of the sources to changes in density
  • keep the language simple: 'to and fro' may be more effective than 'longitudinal'
  • relating what's pictured as a part of the model to human experiences
  • draw simple sketches, rather than hanging too much on words

Teacher Tip: Work through the Physics Narrative to find these lines of thinking worked out and then look in the Teaching Approaches for some examples of activities.

Avoid these

  • using specious energy descriptions
  • drawing or showing transverse waveforms
  • asserting that sound is a wave without clarifying explanation of the idea of a wave
  • conflating models with the lived-in world

Teacher Tip: These difficulties are distilled from: the research findings; the practice of well-connected teachers with expertise; issues intrinsic to representing the physics well.

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