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What is Sound?

An At-Home STEM Lesson Plan Crafted by BGCHarlem STEM Specialist Chaelee Dalton

Photo: Newsweek


Happy National Music Month!

This month, we will learn about the science behind sound and music, while literacy will explore the emotional impact of sound and music.

This week, we will focus on learning what sound is scientifically and how sound is created!

Next week, we will explore thinking about sound as a wave and the different qualities waves have!

Then, we will apply our understanding of sound to learn more about music, to finally end the month creating musical instruments out of household materials.

If your child cannot read, read the text out loud to them. Ask them the questions and have them respond and/ or solve on a separate sheet of paper. If your child can read, simply give them the second page of this handout and have them read the text out loud or in their head.

ANNOUNCEMENT: We’re going live on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays! Click here if you want your child to participate in our virtual after school program. Materials: Blank paper, pen or pencil, Internet access/YouTube

Addresses Common Core Standards:

3-PS2-2 4-PS4-1 4-PS3-2

(You may click here to print the lesson or the student may view the lesson online and write his/her answers on a separate piece of paper)


What Is Sound?

Begin by watching and listening to the video below, which represents climate data through sound.

As you watch, notice and write on a separate piece of paper or below:

What different types of sounds do you hear/observe?

I hear _________________________________________________________________.

What change in sound(s) do you notice over time?

I notice that ____________________________________________ changes over time.

The background tone of this video represents carbon dioxide emissions each year and the plucked strings represent temperature averages each year.

What message do you think this video is trying to send?

I think the message this video is trying to send is _________________________________.

Sound can be used to represent other things and to convey emotion. This will be explored in literacy lessons this month. But what is sound? And how is sound created?

Write your hypotheses below or on a separate piece of paper:

I think sound is ____________________________________________________________.

Sound is created by ________________________________________________________.

Activity: Cover a bowl as tightly as possible with plastic wrap. Then, on top of the plastic wrap, put a few grains of rice, sprinkles, or other, small and light items.

Bring your lips very close to the edge of the bowl and hum. Did the sprinkles move?

If they didn’t, try humming louder.

Or, try varying the pitch (how high or low) your hum is.

Experiment with using tone generators or even playing music on your phone in front of the sprinkles!

What did you observe? What causes the sprinkles to move?

One thing I observed is _____________________________________________________.

I think the sprinkles were moved by ___________________________________________.

Your sound creates vibrations in the air, which also vibrate the plastic wrap. It’s hard to see the plastic wrap’s vibration. You can see those vibrations better by watching the sprinkles!

Now, go to this website and explore different sound waves by pressing keys on the piano keyboard below. The dots represent tiny air particles that are moved by sound, just like the sprinkles! After you experiment with the keyboard, answer these questions.

When you look at all of the dots while playing a piano key, what happens to the dots’ motion?

When I play a piano key, the dots overall ____________________________________.

When you look at a single dot while playing a piano key, what happens to the dot’s motion?

When I play a piano key, a single dot ____________________________________.

What happens when you change piano keys? What happens to the dots when you play a piano key of a higher tone (more to the right)?

When I play a piano key of a higher tone, the dots ______________________________

than when I play a piano key of a lower tone.

Next week we will explore more about how these air particles’ vibrations and these sprinkles vibrations are a result of sound waves moving through the air!


Special thanks to our #STEMMondays partners:

Follow BGCHarlem social media channels for daily updates. And students, we would love to see your work!

Be sure to upload a picture of yourself with your completed lessons using the hashtag #BGCHarlem.  




View our additional 'Resources For Students & Parents for Dealing with COVID-19' HERE

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