SCoPE Site Lesson Plan - Oakland Schools

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SCoPE Site Lesson Plan - Oakland Schools

     High School Science The Nature of Waves


    SCoPE Site Lesson Plan

Title: Lesson 4Exploring Sound (SC110104)


    Students continue their exploration of waves by looking at sound. In this lesson, students use

    rulers and tuning forks in water to show vibrations and compare the results of testing different

    frequencies. They vibrate guitar strings against mirrors and use a laser to show wavelength.

    Students strike tuning forks on sounding boards to show forced vibration and amplification.

    Finally, they research the human ear, ultrasound, and radar.

Subject Area: Science

Grade Level and Course Title: Eleventh Grade/Physics

Unit of Study: The Nature of Waves


    ; Investigate, measure, and explain the relationship of vibrating objects to the creation of

    sounds (I.1.HS.2, I.1.HS.3, I.1.HS.5, IV.4.HS.1, IV.4.HS.3).

Key Concepts




Instructional Resources


    Beakers (various sizes)

    Graduated cylinders


    LabPro or CBL with microphone sensor (optional)

    Laser pointer

    Orff Instruments (children’s)

    Rubber stoppers

    Rulers (plastic, short and long)


    Small craft mirrors glued to alligator clips (approximately 1 cm diameter)

    Sounding board

    Stirring rods

    Straws (1 per student)

    Tuning forks (various frequencies, for 2 stations)

Student Resource

    Cerrudo, Kim, and Juliana Texley. Unit 1 Lesson 4 Student Pages. Teacher-made material.

    Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Treasury, 2002. November 25, 2003 SCoPE SC110104 Page 1 of 5

     High School Science The Nature of Waves


Cramer, Peter. PEARLS. Software. Raleigh, NC: Physics Academic Software, 1996.

Discovery Channel School. The Light Files. Videocassette. Bethesda, MD: Discovery Channel

    School, 2002.

---. The Sound Files. Videocassette. Bethesda, MD: Discovery Channel School, 2002.

Hickey, et al. PhysWiz. Software. Raleigh, NC: Physics Academic Software, 1996.

    Scientific Center PHYSICON. Physics by Pictures. Software. Raleigh, NC: Physics Academic

    Software, 1998.

Windows on Science: Physical Science Volume III and IV. Laserdisc. New York: Optical Data,


Teacher Resource

    C3P 2000+. University of Dallas, Department of Physics (CD ROM and workshop). 25 May

    2002 <>.

Cerrudo, Kim, and Juliana Texley. Grade 11 Unit 1 Teacher Background. Teacher-made

    material. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of Treasury, 2002.

Conceptual Physics. Ed. Paul Hewitt. Prentice-Hall. 25 May 2002


Fleischer, Paul. Waves: Principles of Light, Electricity, and Magnetism. Minneapolis, MN:

    Lerner, 2001.

Jerome, Brian, and Stephanie Jerome. Light, Sound, and Waves. Videocassette. Brandon, NJ:

    Visual Learning Co, 2001.

    Montgomery, Jeffrey. Breaking the Code of Color: Seeing, Hearing, and Smelling the World.

    Howard. Hughes Medical Institute. 20 May 2002 <>.

Teaching about Waves and Sound. American Association of Physics Teachers, Physics Teaching

    Resource Agents. 22 May 2002 <>.

Sequence of Activities

    Advanced Preparation: This lab works well if you set up individual stations for the students and have them rotate through each station. At Station 1, assemble a variety of tuning forks, rulers, and several stirring rods (each fitted with a rubber stopper on one end). At Station 2, lay out several rulers and a children’s Orff instrument. (This is like a xylophone, and will be found in your early elementary music department.) At Station 3, lay out straws and scissors. At Station 4, assemble borosilicate glass graduated cylinders, stirring rods, and beakers to fill. Set this station up near a sink. At Station 5, you will need a guitar or cello, a small craft store mirror (approximately 1 cm in diameter) glued to an alligator clamp, and a laser. This station should be November 25, 2003 SCoPE SC110104 Page 2 of 5

     High School Science The Nature of Waves


    set up near your projection screen. Station 6 will need a sounding board and tuning fork. Vary the number of pieces of equipment at each station as needed with class size.

    Borrow Orff instruments (used to teach young children pitch and rhythm) from your elementary music teacher. Break a plastic ruler to create different lengths with same width. If you can arrange a larger place to conduct this laboratory, it will be easier on your ears and nerves.

    Safety Precautions: Remind students that great care must be exercised when using a laser pointer. Never shine it anyone’s eyes. Keep the pointer secure, and retrieve it before the bell.

1. Remind students of the analogy to sound that they explored in Lesson 1the shoving people

    in a line. Recall that sound is a longitudinal wave, which requires a medium through which to

    send energy. (“In space, no one can hear your engines roar.”) Tell students that they will

    continue their exploration of waves by exploring sound waves. They will be divided into

    groups and will move through their stations sequentially. (While it seems obvious, remind

    students they may not begin at Question 1 on the Student Pages, but should follow along in

    order from the station at which they begin, and from station 6 should return to station 1.) You

    can give the directions orally (as below) or have students use their Student Pages. Remind

    students to discuss their answers as a group before they finalize the answers on their Student


    2. Provide these directions for Station 1: “At this station you will be provided with a number of

    tuning forks. These are instruments that vibrate at very specific frequencies to produce

    specific pitches. They are soft metal so never hit them against anything hard since a nick can

    change the pitch. Measure the length of the tines on each fork. Record them on the chart as

    Question #1. Hit each fork against the “heel” of your had. Describe the pitch on the chart.

    (You can simply describe it as “high,” “medium,” or “low.”) Then carefully place each

    vibrating fork in a beaker of water. Look at the result and record your observations on the

    chart. For Question 2, summarize all of these observations in a single sentence.” [The shorter

    the fork, the higher the frequency of vibrations (pitch) and shorter the wavelength of the

    water pattern.]

    3. Provide these directions for Station 2: “Explore the relationship between length and pitch

    with some different lengths of plastic rulers. Hold a ruler firmly so that most of it extends

    over the edge of the countertop. Gently snap the ruler so that it begins to vibrate (taking

    care not to break the ruler) and pull it over the counter. Record the pitch in the chart as

    Question #3. Then play a song on the Orff instrument and complete Questions 4 and 5.”

    Question #4: “How does the Orff instrument create different pitches?” [There are longer and

    shorter keys.] Question #5: “What generalization can you make about length and pitch?”

    [The longer the object, the lower the pitch.]

    4. Provide these directions for Station 3: “In this station you will blow different lengths of straw

    like a kazoo. Predict what the difference would be between a short straw and a long straw in

    Question #6. Cut the end of the straw into a v-shaped pattern with the “v” being about 1 cm

    in length. Begin by playing a straw like a kazoo. Play several solid tones. Then have your

    partner cut off a little of your straw, again in a v-shaped pattern. Try to play the same tones. November 25, 2003 SCoPE SC110104 Page 3 of 5

     High School Science The Nature of Waves


    Cut the straw again, and repeat. For Question #7 write down a sentence summarizing your

    conclusions. For Question #8 write whether your results matched your prediction. Then

    throw away all the pieces of used straw.” [Pitch went up as length went down.]

    5. Provide these directions for Station 4: “Put stoppers on the ends of some stirring rods to use

    as handles, so you will not drop them. Fill a beaker with water. Now slowly pour the water

    into the graduated cylinder while your lab partner consistently strikes the side of the

    graduated cylinder with the stirring rod. Gently! They are expensive. Do not let them break

    or chip.” Ask students to describe what is vibrating for Question #9 [The column of air.] and

    how pitch changes as you add more and more water to the graduated cylinder as the answer

    to Question #10. [Pitch increases as the air column shortens.] Ask students to draw a picture

    of what they see as Question #11.

    6. Provide these directions for Station 5: “This station may take a little practice lining things up.

    Clip a mirror under a string of a guitar. As one partner strums the guitar string that contains

    the mirror, the second partner will shine the laser pointer at the mirror. Align yourselves so

    that the reflection of the laser pen shines on the projection screen. Draw a picture of what

    you see for Question #12.

    7. Provide these directions for Station 6: “Strike a tuning fork with the rubber stopper end of the

    stirring rod. Now place the tuning fork base on the sounding board. What happened to the

    volume? Put your answer as Question #13.” [Volume increases. By placing the tuning fork

    on the sounding board, you are forcing the sounding board to vibrate at the same frequency

    as the tuning fork. This is what is affecting the volume.] Question #14: “Can you think of

    any other applications of a sounding board? If so, what are they?” [Sounding boards are

    important in pianos, guitars, and violins. The quality of the wood is vital to the sound of the


    8. If you have access to probes or a microphone with oscilloscope, you may wish to add a

    Station 7. Students can watch their voices be converted to sine waves, and summarize the

    relationship between pitch and the wavelength they see.

    9. Ask students to summarize all of their results in one good paragraph at the end of their lab.

    These summaries should be discussed as a group; emphasize the general principles that relate

    wavelength and pitch from these paragraphs.


    The terms frequency, wavelength, sounding board, length, pitch, and volume should be correctly

    used in the context of the final paragraph.

Application Beyond School

    Students may research how musical instruments create different pitches. An example could be a comparison of a piccolo compared to a flute.

November 25, 2003 SCoPE SC110104 Page 4 of 5

     High School Science The Nature of Waves




    While studying sound, students use appropriate algebraic procedures while calculating wavelength, wave speed, and frequency.


    While studying sound, students can learn to understand the value of sounding boards, and the process of tuning stringed instruments.

November 25, 2003 SCoPE SC110104 Page 5 of 5

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