Sound Wave
Light, Sound and Waves

Tracking loudness

Classroom Activity for 5-11 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

A story told with decibels.

This emphasises the graph as a story about something and a way of communicating. It is an opportunity to increase pupils' familiarity with the decibel scale.

What to Prepare

  • Portable dataloggers with sound sensors (You'll ideally need a number of portable dataloggers with the ability to see what you have captured, fitted with microphones and rigged to measure loudness in decibels. Failing this you can record the sound using any device, then feed it into such a datalogger later. However, this will only reliably give relative values, thus undermining a part of the purpose of the exercise.)

What Happens During this Activity

  • Challenge the class to find an event where the sound level varies in an interesting way.
  • They should log the sound from this event, then tell the story of one aspect of the soundscape using a graph.
  • They should be allowed full access to graphical analysis and annotation tools, so that the computer does more than plot the graph. The final product should tell an interesting story.
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