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Sound and Vibrations 2: Make Sprinkles Dance


Grade Range
Group Size
2 students
Active Time
30 minutes
Total Time
30 minutes
Area of Science
Key Concepts
Sound, vibration, motion
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
Vibration & Sound: Make Sprinkles Dance


Can you make something move by using only sound? Your students will find out in this lesson plan as they explore the connection between sound and vibrations.

This is the second in a pair of lessons about sound. See Sound and Vibrations 1: Rubber Band Guitar for the first lesson.

Learning Objectives

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Science & Engineering Practices Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Plan and conduct investigations collaboratively to produce evidence to answer a question.
Disciplinary Core Ideas PS4.A: Wave Properties. Sound can make matter vibrate, and vibrating matter can make sound.
Crosscutting Concepts Cause and Effect. Simple tests can be designed to gather evidence to support or refute student ideas about causes.


Plastic wrap, a can of sprinkles, a rubber band, and a small bowl

Each group will need:

You will also need damp paper towels for clean-up.

Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

The background section of the first lesson plan in this series explains how vibrating materials create sounds. However, the reverse is also true: sound can make materials vibrate. You might have noticed this if you've ever been to a concert, or in a car with the stereo cranked up all the way. The music can get so loud that you can actually feel the ground or your seat vibrating. Vibrations from the air molecules are transferred to the solid objects strongly enough that we can feel them. Of course, loud sounds like that can damage your hearing, so in this project your students will explore something a little safer.

The fact that sound can make materials vibrate also explains how our ears work. Vibrations from air molecules are transferred to our eardrum, a thin membrane inside our ear (Figure 1). The vibrations of the eardrum are converted into nerve signals, which are sent to the brain, allowing us to hear the sound. Our ears are very sensitive, so even soft sounds like a whisper still cause the eardrum to vibrate.

Diagram of sound waves interacting with the inner mechanisms of the human ear

When sound waves enter a human ear they travel past the outer ear until they hit the ear drum. The ear drum vibrates air trapped in the inner ear and a nerve sends a signal to the brain which can decipher the vibrations as different sounds.

Figure 1. Simplified diagram of vibrating air molecules causing the ear drum to vibrate.

In this project, your students will use a thin membrane made from plastic wrap stretched over the opening of a cup. If you put your face very close to the membrane and hum, you can make it vibrate. These vibrations can be hard to see on their own, however. To make them easier to visualize, you can sprinkle some granular material (like sugar, salt, or sprinkles) on top of the membrane first. Then you will see them jump and "dance" around as the membrane vibrates.

Vibration & Sound: Make Sprinkles Dance

Prep Work (10 minutes)

Engage (5 minutes)

Explore (20 minutes)

Reflect (5 minutes)


Make Career Connections

Lesson Plan Variations

Free science fair projects.