Science Projects: Sound
Are you looking for ideas for a science project on sound? This article has information and ideas for sound science projects for students in 1st-4th grade, 5th-8th grade, and 9th-12th grade.
Sound is the topic for this set of science projects to extend students’ classroom and textbook experience. A few tips are given for each range of grades. As you would expect, projects become more complex and demanding for older, more experienced students. Projects are made to be modified: you can easily adapt them to make them easier or more demanding. Also you can alter projects from a higher or lower range of grades than your student’s level if it is appropriate for the student’s development and the curriculum you’re using.
1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Grade
Tips: Elementary students are likely to need help with planning and carrying out long term projects. They may also need assistance in recording observations if their writing skills are not well-enough developed.
- Create musical instruments with varying sounds by a) stretching rubber bands to smaller and greater lengths and securing them on nails (or some other way) and then plucking them; b) filling a set of glasses with varying amounts of water from less to more and then tapping the rim with a metal spoon handle; and c) cardboard tubes of various sizes which you tap on with a wooden spoon. Use these explorations to figure out what determines pitch.
- Try making megaphones of different materials and different sizes and develop an experiment to see which one works best.
- Match sound sources to sounds including vehicles, animals, musical instruments, voices, and other household sounds. Describe the sounds.
- Experiment with pitch matching using an instrument and singing or two instruments (say, a piano and a recorder).
- Make a model to show how sound travels.
- Use an illustration or model of the human ear to explain how we hear sounds.
- Use a stethoscope to listen to the sound of your heart. Use the sound to calculate your heart rate.
- Consider how animals use sound. In your researches, include bats, dolphins, humans, frogs, and dogs.
5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade
Tips: Designed to be more challenging that the elementary projects, the intermediate project suggestions are appropriate for students who can carry out the tasks.
- Experiment with reflection and reverberation by going into different rooms and making the same loud sound, facing the center of the room and facing the walls.
- Research different ways of capturing and preserving sound, including records, CDs, audiotapes, etc.
- Figure out a way to use an electrical circuit to cause a sound.
- Design an experiment to discover differences in how sound travels through different media (e.g., water, air, etc.)
- Choose a musical instrument and explain how it produces sound. Relate it to other instruments in its family and contrast it with 2 instruments and two other instrument families.
9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade
Tips: In order to better fit the student or curriculum you’re using, feel free to adapt or extend these projects. In addition, if the student finds something to point the development of the project in a new direction, you might consider allowing the project to proceed from this point, rather than sticking to the original plan. Students will likely benefit from intermediate check-ins, as well as due dates, for long-term projects.
- Compare and contrast acoustic and digital sound. Explain the uses of each.
- Use a synthesizer (moog or otherwise) to “design” a sound. Give it a name and describe it.
- Make a model of the human sound production system, labeling the parts.
- Compare and contrast sound waves and seismic waves.
- Make a recording in a sound editing program, such as GarageBand. Use the program to alter the sound. Find as many ways as possible to alter the sound’s features, for example, pitch, volume, duration, etc.
- Research echos and find a location where you can consistently create an echo. Rewrite the myth of Echo and Narcissus, using this location as the setting.
- Diagram the different types of sound, including high frequency sound, and identify its uses.
- Research the use of sound as a deterrent for unwanted behavior in dogs and in humans. Prepare an argument for whether or not, in your opinion, it is appropriate to attempt to control human behavior with sound.