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Perfect Pitches with a Rubber Band Guitar

Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
100 minutes
Total Time
100 minutes
Area of Science
Physics
Music
Key Concepts
Sound wave, Frequency, Amplitude
Learning Objectives
  • Draw and identify wave patterns with varying wave characteristics such as different frequencies and amplitudes.
  • Describe how wave characteristics such as frequency and amplitude correspond to sound pitch and sound volume.
  • Understand how to generate high/low pitch notes with varying volumes using a string instrument.
works with google science journal app
sound wave google science journal main

Overview

We are surrounded by sounds every day, ranging from unpleasant ones like traffic noise to enjoyable ones like music or singing birds. What makes these sounds different? Why are some louder or higher pitched than others? In this lesson plan, your students will investigate how the properties of a sound wave, like frequency and amplitude, affect the sounds we hear. They will do this with a homemade musical instrument—a rubber band guitar!

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Collect data to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer scientific questions or test design solutions under a range of conditions.

Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation

Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Apply scientific reasoning to show why the data or evidence is adequate for the explanation or conclusion.
PS4.A: Wave Properties. A simple wave has a repeating pattern with a specific wavelength, frequency, and amplitude.
Patterns. Graphs and charts can be used to identify patterns in data.

Cause and Effect: Mechanism and Prediction. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Credits

Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


materials for rubber band guitar lesson plan

Materials for teacher:

  • Rope or Slinky®
  • Scissors, or box cutter if you are using cardboard boxes

Materials per group of students:

  • Cardboard box or tissue box (with single hole on one side)
  • Rubber band big enough to stretch around the box and cover the hole
  • Pencils, markers, or crayons (2)
  • A smartphone or tablet to record your data
    science-journal-app-icon This project uses Google's Science Journal app, a free app that allows you to gather and record data with a cell phone or tablet. You can download the app from Google Play for Android devices (version 4.4 or newer) or from the App Store for iOS devices (iOS 9.3 or newer).

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-3 students
Active Time
100 minutes
Total Time
100 minutes
Area of Science
Physics
Music
Key Concepts
Sound wave, Frequency, Amplitude
works with google science journal app
Learning Objectives
  • Draw and identify wave patterns with varying wave characteristics such as different frequencies and amplitudes.
  • Describe how wave characteristics such as frequency and amplitude correspond to sound pitch and sound volume.
  • Understand how to generate high/low pitch notes with varying volumes using a string instrument.

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