Talking Tapes | When You Want Your Students To Make Noise!

Tami O'Connor, Educational Innovationsby: Tami O’Connor

On a field trip with my 5th grade students to a local science museum, we saw one of the science instructors conduct a lesson on sound. It was such a simple idea, with easy-to-find materials, that I brought it home to do with my Girl Scout troop the following week.  Since then, I have modified and expanded the lesson so it would fit any elementary or middle school grade lesson plan on sound.

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Chladni Plates

Marty Sagendorfby:  Martin Sagendorf

An Odd Name: They’re named for the German physicist Ernest Chladni who popularized them in the mid-1700s.  His name is pronounced: kläd’nêz.

Chladni Plates are: Thin plates (sprinkled with fine particles) vibrated perpendicular to their plane.

How? – Then and Now: Long ago Chladni used a cello bow to excite the edge of a thin metal or wooden plate.  Today, we can use an oscillator, amplifier, and an electro-mechanical oscillator.  We have a great advantage, we can easily vary the frequency of excitation thereby providing a whole vista of experimentation.

A 17 in. x 14 in. Chladni Plate in guitar shape at 200 Hz

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Pocket Sound Blaster

Norm Barstow, Educational Innovationsby: Norman Barstow

Frequency, Wavelength and Pitch:

Sound is a tone you hear as the result of regular, evenly spaced waves of air molecules. The most noticeable difference is that some tones sound higher or lower than others. These differences are caused by variations in spacing between the waves; the closer the waves are, the higher the tone sounds. The spacing of the waves – the distance from the high point of one wave to high point of the next one – is the wavelength.

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