The Human Reciever
In this set of explorations, students become acquainted with the work of scientists who discovered the basic principles and applications of sound. To contextualize the content, how sound interacts with human hearing is explored.
Students learn about famous musicians who have suffered hearing loss due to lack of proper ear protection. They explore how sounds are altered due to hearing loss by placing ear plugs in first one, and then both of their ears, and listening to a variety of noises. Based on this experience, students discuss how permanent hearing loss would affect their lives.
Based on a story of Edison and Bell’s telephone, students explore the characteristics of diaphragms. They use cups and strings to create different tone qualities. Based on the dimensions of the diaphragm and the resonant frequency, higher or lower pitches are produced.
Students learn how young Alexander Graham Bell was influenced by early scientists’ work with “speaking machines.” Students will explore the origin of sound by creating a vibrating flap with a reed and a straw, simulating the vibration portion of the larynx. Based on this experiment, students will report on the variations that occurred as a result of changing the length of the straw.
Students learn about the sounds that can be heard by animals with a variety of ear sizes including owls, sharks, bats, and elephants. They explore how ear size affects sound by creating fitted large “ears.” Based on this experiment, students learn that by enhancing ear size, more of the sound wave is captured.
The story of Alexander Graham Bell trying to study the source of sound and how human speech is created is the start of the explorations. Bell was compelled to learn about sound as he had family members with hearing loss. Students experiment with various sound-creating devices such as tuning forks, tubes, reeds, instruments to create vibrations.