Energy is needed to produce sound. Identifying where the energy comes
from makes it possible for us to control the amount of energy we exert,
and thereby control the type of sound produced.
The force we use when making sounds is made possible by some
type of energy. For example, when we are drumming, the force that
causes the vibration is the striking motion. The energy that produces the
force comes from the drummer. This process is called an energy transfer.
- Understand that there must be energy behind force.
- Understand the energy transfer involved in making sound.
- Identify the various types of force our bodies can exert to produce
sound with musical instruments.
- Identify the energy transfer that occurs when playing the kazoo.
1 & 1/2 hours, including design time.
Introducing the Concept
Have the students tap on the drums they made in the first “Sounds
Like Science” activity. Talk to them about the force behind the sound.
You might even demonstrate, if you have a drum of your own. Next, introduce
the idea of the energy that creates force. Ask where the energy is coming
from. Once students have grasped the concept, talk about energy transfer
and how they have transformed the energy in their bodies into sound.
- toothed combs (try to find some different sizes)
- waxed paper
- a variety of other kinds of paper
- Cut off a small piece of wax paper the same length as the comb.
- Holding the comb teeth side down, fold the paper over the comb so that
it covers both sides.
- Hold the wax paper against the sides of the comb, but loosely enough
so that the paper will be able to vibrate freely.
- Place the side of the comb to your mouth so that the paper is between
your lips and the comb. Hum or sing against the paper and comb. You can
adjust your lips or the volume of your humming to alter the amplified
sound. Try the same activity with other kinds of paper.
- What happens when you hum against the comb?
- What kinds of sounds are you able to produce?
- How do your lips feel? Are you able to feel the vibrations?
- When you blow harder, does the speed at which your lips vibrate change?
Does it tickle more? Less?
- When you place your thumb on the comb does it change the sound? What
might cause the difference?
- Identify the force and source of energy you are using to produce the
- Students may take a while to achieve the right technique to produce
an amplified sound. If some seem to be getting frustrated, encourage
other students to teach them how to get their kazoo working.
Science All Around Us
- If you wish to examine energy and energy transfer further, look to
sail boats. Wind is the source of energy. It is captured by the sail,
and transformed into a usable “fuel.”
- If you wish to explore energy storage, a park swing is a good place
to start. Sitting on a swing, you can use the energy from your legs to
pump yourself into motion. As you reach the high point of your arc into
the sky, the swing is storing energy for the return swoop. This stored
energy, called potential energy, is greatest when the swing actually
stops in the air before beginning its downward arc.
Sounds Like Science - Drums
Sounds Like Science - Guitars
Sounds Like Science - Bottle Organ
Sounds Like Science - Jamboree
This activity copied from APASE of Vancouver, Canada, which
has regrettably disappeared from the Web.