Sound Lab! Grade 1 become sound explorers
Over the past weeks grade 1 students became sound explorers during their music lessons. They considered questions like: ‘What is sound?’ and ‘Which forces do we use when playing different musical instruments?’
By Melinda Miguel, PYP & MYP Music
As part of their fully integrated unit ‘Forces’ children learned how to recognise the different forces involved when playing a musical instrument. They created their own instruments, investigated how sound travels at different speeds and how these fast and slow vibrations relate to pitch. They discovered that sound is vibration (also called sound waves), and that in fact we can not only hear vibrations but also feel them and even see them!
Feeling the sounds
We started by feeling the sound and experimenting with our own voices. We all hummed and at the same time touched our throats and neck areas. The children were excited to discover their necks or vocal cords vibrate when producing a sound and experienced that when they stopped humming, the sound also stops. In this experiment we could not see the vibrations but we could feel them with our hand.
Seeing the sound: the dancing rice drum experiment
We created our own drums with a bowl, cling film, a spoon, rice and a baking tray. The children observed that by placing the rice on top of the cling film, having the baking tray touching the bowl and hitting it with the spoon, the rice starting to shake. They also had to think which force they used in order to produce the sound that made the rice vibrate.
Pitch as a related concept
The children realised that when an object vibrates it always produces sound due to the fact vibrations move at different speeds. In fact, vibrations moving at different speeds produce the different high and low pitch sounds we hear. We learned that the higher the pitch the faster the vibrations and the lower the pitch the slower the vibrations. We also related pitch with the size of the object/instrument/animal, the bigger the lower the pitch and the smaller the higher the pitch. In the following experiments the children were able to relate the different concepts and answered the inquiry questions.
The water glass xylophone pitch experiment
We created our own water glass xylophones! We had the opportunity to explore the pitch and see that every bar produces a different pitch depending on its size. When we hit the glasses with our spoon, we made the glass and the water inside the glass vibrate. Because the glasses were filled with different amounts of water, each of them sounded and vibrated differently too.
The ruler experiment
With our rulers we explored how vibrations move at different speeds and produce higher and lower pitch. The children placed a ruler on the edge of a table and held this with one hand. They then struck the end of the ruler hanging off the desk. The ruler started vibrating up and down and produced a low sound. They thought of ways to make the sound higher and lower by changing the amount of ruler that hung off of the desk. The longer the ruler the lower the pitch and when the ruler was shortened it vibrated faster when struck, thus raising the pitch.