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A Sound Education: Wacky Waves

Author(s): Gregory L. Vogt, EdD

Ambient Sounds

Air is in a constant state of vibration, due to both the random motion of its molecules and ambient sound waves. A seashell can act as a resonator that vibrates with certain frequencies of ambient noise. Almost any kind of seashell large enough to cover the ear will work, producing a sound resembling ocean waves. If you don’t have a large seashell, you can cup you hand over your ear to achieve the same effect.

Similarly, plastic tubes of varying lengths also pick up ambient sound waves. A tube’s length and diameter determine the frequencies with which it will resonate. Longer tubes resonate with low sounds; shorter tubes with higher pitch sounds.

See the Notes section in the slide for materials needed, optional materials, setup instructions, and answers to questions.

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