Which materials conduct sound? Which insulate it? Try these simple activities. Your third, fourth, or fifth grade students will love them!
Ms. Sneed Explores Which Materials Conduct Sound
“Just two more to go.”
Mr. Frank looked through the sound lesson plans. “Next, kids will explore which materials insulate and conduct sound.”
Once again, Ms. Sneed headed to the science cabinet. “I put everything in this bin last year: a large metal can, a bunch of materials, several different spoons, and some string.”
Shout into a Can
“In the first activity, kids yell into the can,” Mr. Frank explained. “Wow, they’ll love that!”
Ms. Sneed smiled and nodded. “Then they add different fabrics and shout again. For example, when they add something smooth and dense, like aluminum foil, they’ll notice that the sound bounces back. But when they add something soft and lumpy, like this washcloth, the sound is absorbed.”
Use a Spoon on a String – It Will Really Conduct Sound!
Mr. Frank picked up the metal spoon and tied the middle of the string to it. “Of all our sound activities, this is my favorite.”
He wrapped the ends of the string around his pointer fingers. Then he stood up and stuck his fingers into his hears. Leaning down, he let the spoon swing. When it hit the edge of the table, his eyes opened wide. “Boooiiiinnnnggg!” he said. “I just can’t get over it. The sound is so loud when it travels through the string to my ear.”
Ms. Sneed smiled. “For this activity, kids will also try plastic and wooden spoons. It really drives home the point that denser materials conduct sound better.”
“Aha,” said Mr. Frank, “I think I’ll try that out.”
After tying pieces of string to the plastic spoon, he again wrapped it around his fingers and let it hit the table. “Yeah. Definitely doesn’t ring as much or as loudly as with the metal spoon.”
Next, he tried the wooden spoon. “Hmm. Even less. More like a thunk. Yeah, this is a great activity for teaching kids which materials conduct sound better.”
“Additionally,” Ms. Sneed added, “they’ll understand that sound travels best through dense materials.”
Enjoy Teaching Sound
Ms. Sneed and Mr. Frank love hands-on physical science – especially when their students can rotate through stations on their own. In this sound unit, kids explore which materials conduct sound, as well as five other concepts.