Gardenview: Budding Scientists Discover Sound Vibrations

Jodi Schwartz, B.A.S.E. Animator

This fall, Miss Jodi had the budding scientists at Gardenview B.A.S.E. daycare learning about how sound works. She asked everyone to gently touch their throats while saying their names. They all felt their fingers vibrate. Miss Jodi explained that for a sound to happen, something has to vibrate, move, or shake.

Next, the children saw sound move by hitting a tinfoil plate (that was face down on the table) with a paper towel roll. The tinfoil plate had raw pasta on top of it. When they hit the plate, vibrations from the sound waves made the pasta jump.

In the next experiment, the children, pretending to be bats, explored the concept of echolocation to whisper their favourite colours to their peers using two paper towel rolls: one to listen and the other to speak, both pointed towards a tinfoil plate. The sound travelled from one child’s mouth, bounced off the tinfoil plate and travelled through the other paper towel roll into another child’s ear.

The telephone cup experiment functioned in much the same way. Sound travelled from one child’s mouth, through the cup, made the string connecting the two cups vibrate, and continued through the second cup to another child’s ear. The key to this experiment, as the children learned, was to keep the string tight while speaking, as sound travels much better this way. Once they got the hang of it, the children attempted to play the “broken telephone game” using the telephone cups as an obstacle that made transmitting the message more difficult.

The last experiment involved exploring the workings of the tonoscope. Miss Jodi had created a homemade tonoscope out of a large plastic cup with a small hole in the side, where she inserted an empty paper towel roll. A piece of a balloon was stretched to cover the entire top of the cup and it was secured tightly using an elastic band. Miss Jodi poured some salt on top of the balloon. She then explained that the children would each have a turn to speak or sing into the tube using different tones of voices. Once this happened, everyone was able to see the salt create sound wave patterns right before their eyes. Science is incredible!

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