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8th Graders Study Pitch and Sound Density - Using Their Own Ceramic Instruments

Science students in the 8th Grade spend their year focused on the Physical Sciences – currently wrapping up their exploration of physics, they are engaging in a short unit on waves, examining the properties of both sound and light waves. Two weeks ago, 8th Graders measured the illumination in different areas around school, compared those values to the recommended levels and designed solutions for over- or under-illumination. Last week, students shifted their focus to sound waves, using ceramic ocarinas they created in Art class to research the properties of pitch and sound intensity.

Before conducting their experiments, students explained in writing the meanings of wave frequency, wave amplitude and wave period. Using Google’s Science Journal app, they recorded themselves playing ocarinas, flute-like instruments they constructed out of clay and glazed in Art class. Students used the audio data produced by their playing to determine how they could change the amplitude of the sound vibrations, then completed a series of trials measuring the sound density and pitch of sound at a high amplitude as well as at a low amplitude. Next, students figured out how to change the frequency of their sound wave and completed high frequency and low frequency trials.

Once they had collected and recorded their data, 8th Graders calculated the average sound density and pitch from all trials and used the averages to create graphs representing the relationship between pitch [Hz] and amplitude and sound intensity [dB] and amplitude.