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Activity Time: 20 minutes
Recommended Grades: 1 - 5
Objective: Analyze and compare how sound changes as it travels through different mediums. Then, develop and use models to produce a variety of different sounds.
Sound is nothing more than a vibration that travels in a wave. When this wave reaches our ears, it vibrates our eardrums and we hear a sound. This wave needs a medium through which to travel. As a sound wave travels through a medium, energy has to pass from one molecule to the next. Depending on how close the molecules are to one another, and the tighter their bonds, the faster those vibrations can be transferred between molecules. In the experiment above, the sound had to initially travel from the hanger to your ears through the air, a gas. When holding the string up to your ears, the sound traveled through the string, a solid. Because molecules are spread further apart in a gas than in a solid, the sound produced changed. Similarly, by changing the material of the string, or by replacing the metal hanger with a different object, a variety of sounds are produced.