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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
2 hours
Total Time
2 hours
Area of Science
Mechanical Engineering
Key Concepts
Sound, waves, insulation, engineering design
Learning Objectives
  • Explain that sound waves can be reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through different materials.
  • Understand that some materials are better sound insulators than others.
  • Apply the engineering design process to designing and building a sound-insulating device.
  • Compare the test data from two competing solutions and determine which solution was better.
works with google science journal app
Using Google Science Journal to record sound levels with a phone

Overview

Do your students ever wish they could block out an annoying noise or music they don't like? In this fun lesson plan, they will design sound-insulating containers and measure how well they work using Google's Science Journal app.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Developing and Using Models. Develop and use a model to describe phenomena (MS-PS4-2).

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon criteria.
PS4.A: Wave Properties. A sound wave needs a medium through which it is transmitted (MS-PS4-2).

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.
Structure and Function. Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used.

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


Example materials for the sound insulation lesson plan
  • Smartphone with Google's Science Journal app, available for free on Google Play. Note that the app requires Android version 4.4 or higher and is not currently available for iOS devices.
  • A second phone, tablet, or computer with speakers
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Masking tape
  • Assortment of common classroom and craft materials for students to build their sound-insulating containers. Use what you have available. Here are some suggestions:
    • Items to use as containers (cardboard boxes, plastic bags, plastic food storage containers, etc.)
    • Insulating materials (cotton balls, crumpled scrap paper, foam, shredded newspaper, etc.)
    • Assembly materials (scissors, tape, paper clips, etc.)

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
2 hours
Total Time
2 hours
Area of Science
Mechanical Engineering
Key Concepts
Sound, waves, insulation, engineering design
works with google science journal app
Learning Objectives
  • Explain that sound waves can be reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through different materials.
  • Understand that some materials are better sound insulators than others.
  • Apply the engineering design process to designing and building a sound-insulating device.
  • Compare the test data from two competing solutions and determine which solution was better.

Class Materials