5.2 Matter (Sound)

The student will investigate and understand how sound is transmitted and is used as a means of communication. Key concepts include:
a) frequency, waves, wavelength, vibration;
b) the ability of different media (solids, liquids, and gases) to transmit sound; and
c) uses and applications (voice, sonar, animal sounds, and musical instruments).

Research Resources:
Ocean Odyssey Little Mermaid Sound Challenge
BBC Sound & Hearing
NASA – Matter & Molecules
NASA – Sound Waves
NASA – How Sound Travels
BBC – Changing Sounds
FOSS Web – How Far Away Is It?
The Music Lab

Echolocation – Seeing with Sound

Design Briefs:
Controlling Sound
Let Your Ears do the Walking

Teacher Name: 5th Grade Science CCTS
Nicole Field, Lori Seal, Heather Reid, Katherine Schmid, Lindsey Thompson
Grade Level:

Suggested Research Materials:

The research links above and Discovery Science- House Sound Travels Explore Activities, Explore Pitch Activity  (Changing Sounds Activity) http://www.solpass.org/BBC/changing_sounds3.htm

Materials Needed:

Keynote, Garage Band

Suggested Design Brief:

Students will create and model examples of frequency and pitch using musical instruments. The students can chose from either project.

  • Garage Band- Students will record various instruments and their voice using the garage band program to show examples of how pitch is changed using different instruments. The students can record themselves explaining pitch and how it’s changed due to volume and the musical instrument.
  • Keynote- Students will create a Keynote experimenting with how sound travels through different mediums. The students will record their voice or an instrument when it travels through a specific medium. To conclude their experiment they will create a slide explaining their results, which also contains the recorded sound. Students should experiment 3 to 4 different mediums to be able to generate reflection and analysis.

Suggested Reflection Activity:

  • Garage Band Activity Reflection- What properties can you look for in an instrument to determine what sounds it will make?
  • Keynote Activity Reflection- Describe how the transfer of sound is affected when traveling through different mediums?

Design Brief 2:  Music Makers

Teacher Name:
5th Grade Science CCTS
K. Linham, R. Whitehead, L. Clipp, C. Ridle

Suggested Research Materials:


Suggested Design Brief:  Music Makers

Background –  We know that sound is a form of energy produced and transmitted by vibrating matter and that pitch is determined by the frequency of the vibrating object. You have been studying sound and how sound is transmitted and used as a means of communication.

Design Challenge –  Design and build a musical instrument that will make at least three (3) different pitches, and use it to create a tune of your own.  You may use the materials that your teacher provides.

Criteria –  Your instrument must:

  • Have at least three (3) different recognizable pitches;
  • Be accompanied by a paragraph explaining how your instrument works (how it makes sound);
  • Use only the materials provided by the teacher;
  • Be attractive and neatly made;
  • Be used to play a short tune.

Materials – You may select from the items below.

  • Straws
  • Card stock
  • Rubber bands
  • Craft sticks
  • 6 inches of tape
  • Paper clips
  • Plastic cups
  • 24 inches of fishing line

You may work in groups of no more than 3.  The rubric below will be used to score your instrument.  Use this rubric to score your activity.

Suggested Reflection Activity:

Students use following rubric to visit each team.  They will score the team, and make suggestions for improvements/changes as they see fit.  Once groups receive feedback, they will collaboratively write a reflection of what was not only successful, but also address changes they would make if they were to do the project again.