Wave to Sound

By: Cassie Anderson, Elizabeth Smith, Ariana Dildine

1. Introduction
• The theme of this unit is sound—more specifically, how sound works and is manipulated. Students encounter sound on a daily basis and in a variety of ways: verbal speech; listening to music; feeling vibrations from speakers, car horns, whistling, etc.; and through making music, such as playing instruments. This unit will deepen students’ understanding of the sound that surrounds them, give them the vocabulary needed to explain sound, and provide them with the skills to manipulate sound for themselves.

2. Unit Description
• Sound as a wave.
i. Characteristics of sound waves
- Mechanical waves (all mechanical waves need a medium).
- Longitudinal compression waves
- Wavelength, amplitude, frequency
• Sound as music.
i. How sound is made and manipulated.
• Sound and society.
i. Media
ii. Hearing Impairments
iii. Deaf Culture
iv. Pop Culture
v. Music Therapy

3. Conceptual Explanations
• Sound as waves and vibrations.
i. Mechanical waves: cycles of disturbance in a physical medium (gases, fluids, and solids).
ii. Parts of a mechanical wave include wavelength (one point on a wave to the same point on the next wave), amplitude (the wave size, or the amount of air, water, etc. that is moved by the sound), and frequency (waves or cycles per second).
iii. Longitudinal waves: the particle movement is parallel to the direction of the wave.
iv. Sound is a form of energy that is created by mechanical vibrations.
v. Sound waves are pulsations of compressions of air particles.

• Sound as music.
i. Sound can be made, altered, and manipulated.
- Beat: pulsation or repetition of tones.
- Chord: three or four notes played at the same time.
- Interval: the distance or time between two notes.
- Loudness: increasing the amplitude increase the loudness or volume.
- Measure: measurement divided into two, three, or four beats.
- Note: the duration of a specific sound with a certain pitch.
- Octave: moving eight full notes higher than the initial note.
- Pitch: the frequency of the sound wave; higher frequencies mean the wavelengths get shorter.
- Resonance: the transfer of sound waves from one medium to another that generally results in amplifying the sound (Ex. playing a guitar string by itself as compared to attaching the string to the guitar body).
- Rhythm: a repeated pattern of beats within a unit of time.
- Scale: the notes of an octave.
- Tempo: the speed at which the rhythm occurs (beats per minute).
*Conceptual explanations came from The Really Useful Elementary Science Book by Dr. Jefferey W. Bloom.
• Sound and Society
i. Sound can be used to create messages, manipulate emotions, and create moods within the media and pop culture.
- Ex. Creators or listeners of country music are assumed to dress, talk, or act a certain way.
- Movies/commercials use sound/music to create a scary, romantic, tragic, etc. mood.
ii. Hearing Impairments and the Deaf Culture: hearing loss or deafness also has cultural implications.
iii. Music Therapy: music can be used in therapeutic settings.

4. Engagement, Inquiry, and End Product

• Describe one or more approaches that teachers can use to engage children in this unit.
- Through exploration, play and self-discovery
- Through the excitement of sound or song
• Describe one or more approaches that teachers can use to engage children in each subunit.
- Through relating these instruments into a song they can relate too.
- Relating the music into everyday life skills (media, society, movies)
• Describe the approaches you will take to inquiry. To what degree are inquiries student directed and to what degree are they teacher-directed? What types of inquiry are included?
- Inquiry: Ask, investigate, create, discuss, reflect
- We will ask children what they may know about sound. (from music, to instruments, to self-experiences, how sound is used day to day, what is to happen if sound is farther or closer to us)
- The inquiries are directed through teacher set up, by asking a simple question, as what do you know about sound? (probing questions)
- Inquiry is student directed by their flow of discussion as it may lead into other questions the students have to raise. Their self-discovery and play with the tuning forks, rubber bands, and straw clarinets are where the students have a chance to explore on their own. They can place the tuning forks on whatever they choose, feel the vibrations and listen to the sound through the stethoscopes.
- Inquiry Included: Experimental, problem based, project based, observational, evaluation, questioning, connecting, exploratory, structure, guided, free inquiry.

• What end product(s) will be used as one or more goals for students to work towards for this unit? There may be one or several small goals?
- End Product: Making a straw kazoo - this could lead into students wanting to make other instruments with paper towel containers, Kleenex boxes, string, and rubber bands. They could even perform their own song to their classmates.
- Smaller Goals: Understand what sound waves are, and how different forms of instruments and sound may sound through other objects (i.e. couch, wood, hand, elbow, and floor).

5. Sub-Unit Activities, Inquiries, Inquiry Questions, and Data Analysis
• Concepts:
-Sound as a Wave
-Sound as Music
-Sound and Society

• Activities:

Sound Exploration: This activity can engage students in all of the concepts and should take place first in the unit. Set out different items such as tuning forks, stethoscopes, string, and water in bottles. Students can then play with the variety of materials in order to see how they create sound. Students should take time to develop their own questions throughout the activity that they can aim to answer throughout the unit.

Straw Kazoos: This activity helps students understand sound as a wave and sound as music. Students will need multiple straws each, preferably of different diameters, as well as a pair of scissors. Students will cut one end of the straw to a point to resemble an upside down “v”. When they blow into it, it will create a buzzing sound. Students should be encouraged to explore and play with these kazoos so they get to the point where they get different pitches from different length straws. If possible, teachers should get digital music tuners so students can see which notes they are playing.

Water Trombones: This activity is similar to the straw kazoo activity. It also addresses sound as music and sound as a wave. For this activity, students can use jars, straws, and water. Fill jars with water and place a straw in it. When the students blow across the tops of the straws, they will create a pitch. By moving the straw up and down, the pitch will change. Similarly, children can explore using different size straws, different amounts of water, etc.

Sound in the Media: This activity addresses sound as music and sound in society. Using a computer, the teacher can find a number of clips that are age appropriate. Without being allowed to see the clips, have the students describe the sound in their journals. Have them use terms they have been learning such as beat, pitch, tone, etc. In addition have students describe how the sounds made them feel and why certain types of sound may have been chosen for that movie, commercial, etc.

Sound as a Community Shaper: This activity also addresses sound in society and sound as music. Students come up with what they think of when they think of a particular type of music. Students can draw pictures of what they think listeners of that genre might look like, list words they think of, etc. Students can then survey friends and family about what music they listen to. After collecting data, students can compare their initial assumptions with their findings.

Techniques for Analyzing Data:
-Students can use graphing to plot length of instrument vs pitch.
- Use Venn diagrams to compare sounds
-Draw diagrams of sound waves.
-Analyze relationships between different aspects of sound such as frequency, amplitude, etc using webs or charts.
-For the Sound as a Community Shaper activity, students can make pie charts, bar graphs, etc. to represent their findings.

6. Transdisciplinary (Integrative) and Patterns Opportunities

In our unit, there are a number of ways to integrate into other disciplines.

Social studies- Students can look at how music has influenced culture and vice versa over time. In addition, the idea of a world without sound could be integrated into a study of Deaf Culture, especially if there are children in the class who are deaf or hearing impaired.

Language Arts Students will be given daily opportunities to work on their writing skills as they will journal about what they are learning each day. Another way this unit could be integrated into language arts is to explore onomatopoeias with the students. Giving students the opportunity to first make sound and then express that sound with language would be a great way to both strengthen creative writing skills while exploring the different qualities of sound.

Math: When making instruments such as water trombones or straw kazoos, students can work on measurement skills. Students can measure lengths, circumferences, volume, etc.

Breaks- Students can examine the space between sounds or the silence in between them. In music, look at breaks as rests or measures.
Binaries- How sound and silence work together or how they oppose each other.
Triggers- What starts sound or sound vibrations? What triggers change in pitch?
Gradients- Changes in pitch, volume, etc.

7. Assessment

• Describe the specific approaches, strategies, and tools you can use to assess children’s conceptual learning and other dimensions of the unit goal.
- Concept map on sound waves (before/after) (making connections)
- Developing an instrument
- Presentation
- Writing their understandings in a daily journal
- Connections
- Misconceptions
- Engagement by self/groups
- Asking questions with their peers or teachers

• Describe in detail how and what you can assess before, during, and at the end of the unit.
- Before: Their ideas about sound. (if they know where it comes from, how it is generated) If they ask questions and make connections. Assessing before doesn’t have to be anything specific it is if they can just explore what sound is on a conceptual map whether it is right on track or way off.
- During: If they can demonstrate sound by playing with the materials in different forms and engaging with others. This can be done by teacher observation and journaling.
- End: See if the students can make connections about sound. (i.e. sound can travel through different objects and is an energy form that travels-through a concept map) Instruments can also be used to create and manipulate sound and then presentations can be done with explanations.

8. Implementation

a. Description
The initial project consisted of setting out the tuning forks, stethoscopes, water trombones, straw kazoos, strings and guitar. The children were free to play and experiment with the materials. As children tried new things we asked them what they already knew about sound and what they were observing from the materials. Children with background knowledge in sound, such as band students, were more willing to try out creative ideas. However, children who did not have as much prior knowledge were less engaged. Those who were engaged experimented with hearing sound in the stethoscopes through different mediums such as themselves, the wall, the chairs, etc. Finally, students with music knowledge creatively manipulated the kazoos to make different pitches.

b. Reflection and Critical Analyses
- We engaged students with inquiry by placing them in an open setting environment with different water and sound set ups. Our sound and waves project was in a college biology building in the lobby where a science fair was taking place. We set our stations up on benches and couches that we pulled in a circle in the lobby.
- Our lesson would have been better suited in a classroom setting where kids would not be distracted by other fair exhibits. A classroom setting would be better suited for our unit approach on sound and waves.
- We learned from our experience that the best setting would be in a classroom as we idealized that this lesson would be best implemented as a unit.

c. Recommendations for Future Implementation
- Rather than present this activity as isolated from a unit, it would be much better suited to start out a unit. This was students can use the activity to develop curiosity and questions rather than using it to find answers. By implementing the activity in this way it would be better connected to the rest of the unit.
- To better suit the needs of diverse students, this unit can be adapted. First, to meet the needs of culturally diverse students, the music used can be from different cultures. In addition, students who learn in other ways than linguistic can be given the opportunity to learn through hands on activities, drawing what they learn, discussing what they learn, etc.

9. References

Bloom, Jefferey W. Dr. “The Physical Sciences.” The Really Useful Elementary Science Book. Routledge. New York. 2011.

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