Shake It Up! Listening to Science

What You Need:

  • Small containers, not see-through (like a small box or an empty coffee can)
  • Various objects that represent hard and soft sounds, like rice, beans, pebbles, sand, salt, metal washers, coins, paperclips, etc.
  • Pencil
  • Blank paper

What You Do:

  1. Prepare for this experiment by selecting 4–5 of the objects listed above ahead of time. Use different objects that will make different kinds of noises, like loud sounds, soft sounds, hard sounds, etc.
  2. Take two containers for each object, and put the objects into the containers so that each object has a matching pair. For example, if you have 5 objects you'll need 10 containers. If you use a coffee can with a see-through plastic lid, it's best to tape a piece of paper, cut to size, on the inside of the lid so you can't see through it. Another simple alternative is to blindfold your child.
  3. Number the containers from 1 to 10. Order doesn't matter since your child will be matching up the containers with the same sound.
  4. Get out the blank paper and label it with the heading, "Matching Pairs."
  5. Conduct the experiment! Invite your child to shake each container and describe the sound they hear. Shake it hard, soft, up and down, and side to side! Write down their observations, or if they've started writing, let your child write them down.
  6. Now using only their ears, their job is to look for sounds that match! When they find a pair, have them record the numbers of the matching containers on the sheet.
  7. After they've paired off each container, peek inside to see if their guesses match up with the real thing. Then talk about the experiment, asking questions like, "How could you tell the difference between sounds? Which ones were hardest to tell apart? Which ones sounded the most alike?"
  8. To add more fun, try this experiment with the whole family and have a contest to see who's got the most sensitive ears!

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