Problem Solvers

Protect your ears

Protect your ears

Get crafty and create some ear protection using a range of different materials.

Activity overview

30 mins+
Ages 7 – 9

Science topics:

Materials , Sound

You will need:

A mix of construction and muffling materials (card, cling film, tape, glue, elastic bands, cotton wool, foam, fabric).

Sometimes you have to solve a problem on the spot. Explain that today the class will need to make ear protection using just the materials provided. 

Run the activity

1. Explain that working as a team, they will have 20 minutes to look at the materials and make something to protect their ears from loud noises. Encourage them to think about how they might wear their ear protection and what materials will be best to use.

2. After 20 minutes, get them to swap creations with another group. Continue working, but this time on the unfamiliar creation. How can they improve it?

3. After 10 more minutes, survey the final creations. What have they learned from swapping projects? 

Background science

Loud noises can be damaging to your hearing, meaning that eventually you might not be able to hear as well. Sound is measured in decibels and sounds above 85 decibels are considered unsafe if someone is exposed to them for a long time and on a regular basis. A conversation comes in at around 60 decibels; an aeroplane taking off is around 130 decibels and a rocket launch will be over 180 decibels!

There are lots of jobs that require people to work around very loud noises all day but these are not the only people at risk. Attending lots of loud concerts or festivals could have a detrimental effect on your hearing. It’s recommended that people who are exposed to these sorts of sound wear some sort of ear protection. There’s a range of ear protection available from ear plugs to industrial ear muffs.

Take it further

You’ve discussed your creations, but why not encourage your class to think about how they could test which material is best at insulating sound in a safe way. This simple Science Sparks investigation has ideas about how children can carry out an investigation. The children could use a datalogger if they wanted to get accurate measurements.This clip from BBC Teach video clip explores how to muffle loud sounds. Explore vibrations and sound waves with this musical What’s Going On activity.

If your class enjoyed blocking out sounds they could take what they’ve learned and have a go at this activity that asks them to lightproof a secret den. What are the similarities and differences between light and sound?