Explorify at home: Sound
This collection of activities about sound is ideal to do at home with your little explorers. Enjoy a good afternoon of science each week!
A bottle orchestra
Explorify at home is a special series of science activities for parents and carers of primary school children who are now learning at home. We define activities by age and curriculum topics in Explorify, but these collections are also suitable to do all together as a family of mixed aged children. Or if your little scientist just wants to explore further, pick something from the other age sections for inspiration! Teachers can find out about our full (free!) classroom resource at the bottom of this page.
Parents, read on!
This collection is all about sound. Sounds are made when something vibrates. We hear sounds because the vibrations travel to our ears.
For children aged 5-7
First, take a close-up look: open up this Zoom In Zoom Out activity, 'Hidden depths'. Look at the first picture for clues and wonder what it might be; any idea is fine if children can say why, as there isn’t always just one right answer in science. Use the magnifying glass icon to zoom out and reveal more clues; talk about what you see.
Hands-on activity: Did you realise you were looking at a human ear? Sound waves travel through the air to our ear drum causing it to vibrate. These vibrations are then transmitted to tiny bones and fluid in our inner ear. The movement of this fluid stimulates nerve endings which carry messages to our brains that are interpreted as sound.
How do our ears differ from other the ears of other animals your children know about? What difference does moving our heads make to what we can hear? Can we tell which direction a sound has come from, by listening?
Watch more on sound, hearing, and sound as vibrations on BBC Bitesize Daily.
First, watch this video: Making musical instruments can be a lot of fun. The sounds heard in this bottle orchestra come from the glass and liquid vibrating. Blowing gently over the top of the bottles will produce a more consistent sound, but you’ll get the lower pitch notes when there is less water in the bottles because it’s the air vibrating that makes the note.
Hands-on activity: You could try to create your own bottle or tin can orchestra (adults please supervise this!).
Watch more on sound experiments, how sounds are made, and making noises louder on BBC Bitesize Daily.
Hands-on activity: Sound travels through different materials but sometimes we want to block out sound to protect our ears. Can you design and make a set of noise blocking ear muffs using recycled packaging and scraps of material (such as old clothes)? Which materials are most useful? Remember you need to think about comfort as well as the properties of materials!
Watch more on sound experiments and high and low pitches on BBC Bitesize Daily.
That's all for this week!
We hope your little scientists have enjoyed exploring sounds this week. We'd love to know how you got on. You can follow us on Twitter or Facebook or email us if you have any feedback on this collection.
Please note that adults should supervise making musical instruments and make sure that children do not put anything inside their ears.
Take it further:
- Visit STEM Learning, to explore their support for parents and carers with home learning.
- Watch the BBC Bitesize Daily programmes on sound which are now available, linked above under your child's age. Previous programmes including versions for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can be found on the iPlayer.
- Browse our other collections – there's are more added each week!
Are you a primary school teacher who has yet to sign up to Explorify?
If you are a teacher who hasn't discovered Explorify before, you can sign up and explore the whole website with over 400 free activities. (It's free, as it's funded by charitable foundation Wellcome Trust. Our mission is to help you enhance your science teaching and get your pupils thinking like scientists!) We provide background science, to help you field questions from your pupils and ideas to take our curriculum-linked activities further. Something to get your teeth into for when you're back in the classroom!
Image credits: Girl listening to headphones by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels; Normal Tympanic Membrane by Michael Hawke MD via HawkeLibrary.com, CC BY-NC 3.0; 'Bottle Orchestra', Wellcome Trust.
Video credits: 'Bottle Orchestra', Wellcome Trust.