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How Well Does Sound Travel Through a Gas? A Liquid? A Solid?

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Author: Shelly Smith

Grade Level: Preschool to 2nd grade; Type: Physics

Objective:

Chidren will experience sounds travelling through things in different states: a bag of air, a bag of water, a wooden block.

Research Questions:

Will a pencil tap heard through a bag of air sound different than a pencil tap heard through a bag of water? Will these taps sound different than a tap heard through a wooden block?

Materials:

  • Zippered sandwich bag
  • Water
  • Wooden block
  • Pencil

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Blow into the sandwich bag and quickly seal it to create a puffed up bag of air (a gas).
  2. Cover one ear with your hand and the other ear with the bag of air.
  3. Have an assisstant tap the bag with a pencil. How does it sound?
  4. Now fill the bag with water (a liquid) and seal it.
  5. Hold this water-filled bag against one ear while covering the other ear with your hand.
  6. Have your assistant tap this bag with a pencil. How does it sound?
  7. Finally hold a wooden block (a solid) over one ear while covering the other ear with your hand. Have your friend tap the block with the pencil. How does it sound?
  8. Compare and discuss your observations.

Terms/Concepts: Things exist in different states: gas, liquid. solid; Sound travels.

References: "How to Demonstrate Sound Waves to Kids," eHow Family

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