Sound and Vibrations 1: Rubber Band Guitar
Young students know that they can hear sounds, but do they know what causes sounds? In this lesson they will learn that sounds are caused by vibrations, and they will build a fun musical instrument of their own.
In the Sound and Vibrations 2: Make Sprinkles Dance, students will learn that sounds can also cause vibrations.
- Understand that vibration causes sound
- Make a sound and identify what vibrates to cause the sound
NGSS AlignmentThis lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
- 1-PS4-1. Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
|Science & Engineering Practices||Disciplinary Core Ideas||Crosscutting Concepts|
|Science & Engineering Practices||Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions.
Make observations (firsthand or from media) to construct an evidence-based account for natural phenomena.
||Disciplinary Core Ideas||PS4.A: Wave Properties. Sound can make matter vibrate, and vibrating matter can make sound.
||Crosscutting Concepts||Cause and Effect. Events have causes that generate observable patterns.
For each group:
- Tissue box with single hole in the top (not the kind with a hole that wraps around two sides), or small cardboard box with hole cut in the top. If using cardboard boxes, you will also need a box cutter or scissors (adult use only) and tape.
- Rubber band that is big enough to stretch around the box and over the hole
- Pencils, markers, or crayons (2)
Background Information for TeachersThis section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.
We are surrounded by sounds every day. Sounds are caused by vibrations, or the rapid back-and-forth motion of an object. These vibrations are transferred to the air molecules right next to the object, which bump into the molecules next to them, and so on, until the vibration reaches our ear (Fig 1).
A vibrating object causes air molecules around it to vibrate. The air molecules are pushed together in a wave pattern that travels to our ears, and is interpreted as sound.
Figure 1. Diagram of how sound travels as vibrations (air molecules are not drawn to scale).
Sometimes, these vibrations are obvious because they are big enough to see. For example, when you pluck a rubber band, you can see it move back and forth (or if you turn up the bass on a stereo with a large subwoofer, you may be able to see the speaker move). However, for the majority of sounds we hear every day, these vibrations are too small to see. For example, when you knock on a door, even though you can hear a sound, you can't see the door vibrate at all. Sometimes you can still feel these vibrations even though you can't see them. For example, if you place the palm of your hand on a door while someone else knocks on it, you will feel the knock. You can also feel your vocal cords vibrate if you put your hand on your throat while you talk!
In this lesson plan, students will first explore how sounds cause vibrations using vibrations that are easy to see (with rubber bands). Then they will explore other vibrations that are harder to see, like knocking or talking. Finally, they will make their own sound and explain what vibrates and causes the sound.