The Science of Sound for Kids
I remember learning about sound waves in middle school science, and the teacher using a slinky to demonstrate how the waves would travel from one side of the room to the other. Our ALEX Toys Talking Tubes were the perfect way to give the kids a little demonstration in how sound waves travel this week! As a blogger for ALEX Toys, I get to select a few of their products each month, and picked the Talking Tubes because I knew that they would be perfect for our experiment, not to mention hours of entertainment!
In this glorified version of two tin cans on a string, the sound waves travel through plastic tubing instead of along the string – making for a much better sound on both ends! Having the sound waves isolated in this way was a great way for my kids to understand that sound travels along a trajectory, rather than simple flying about randomly. It was also a neat little mini-lesson on sound isolation – the limited opening in the play phone means that it picks up the sounds that are closest to it (your own voice, normally) and cuts out most background noise.
We followed up by plucking a few strings on the guitar, which provides a great visualization of sound waves traveling. Then we tightened up the strings so that they can learn that higher tension creates faster (and narrower) vibrations, leading to higher pitch. When they are a little older, we’ll repeat this experiment and follow up with this excellent video from the brilliant Vihart (if you haven’t seen her Youtube channel, check it out!)
What science experiments have you been doing lately? Have you ever made your own talking tubes? Would your kids recognize the plastic ends on these talking tubes as telephones? My kids only did because they have seen this style of telephones in a couple of movies we have watched with them!
I blog for ALEX Toys and receive products from them to review. All opinions are my own.
MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.
21 thoughts on “Science for Kids: The Science of Sound”
Such a good point on recognizing a telephone! My kids saw one in a second hand shop recently and asked what it was! Looks like a fun toy!
My kids have had a lot of fun with it!
Interesting point about telephones that look so much different now! These talking tubes look like fun. Our last experiment was, I think, oobleck – we’ve been much too busy lately. Hopefully we’ll do more during a fall break.
Oobleck is always fun! I haven’t done it with my kids in ages – time to pull it out again!
What a great picture of Lily! I love that this item makes it clear that sound travels on a trajectory. We talk about sound in relation to my husband’s work, which involves sound waves bouncing off rocks, as well as thunder and lightning, like Lisa commented above.
Ooh, we haven’t talked about sound waves bouncing off of rocks yet – that’s a good one!
The closest we’ve done to talking tubes is whisper phones for reading, but a talking tube could be really fun.
This one works really well!
We haven’t done much with sound. Let’s see, we have been doing a lot of earth science. Making magma, thinking about making a volcano, representing earthquakes with eggs – to see how the plates move.
Great video on sound!
We have talked about sound (elementary I know) with the thunder and fireworks. We see the fireworks first then hear the boom. We see the lightening first, then hear the thunder. Why is that type of thing.
Thanks for this post!
Sounds like you’ve done some great science!
J loved playing with the phone toy! I just wish the tubing was a little longer. He recognized it as a phone, but then again, he had a hard time with the vision test at the pediatrician’s office when they asked him to identify a picture of a ROTARY phone! I think we’re going to delve into light this week in science.
How funny that they wanted him to recognize a rotary phone!
I agree it would be fun for the tubing to be longer – but if it were a little longer I would probably still want it to be longer :)
I remember the slinky demonstration too! I think my kids would recognize the phone because of the calls to the producer on The Magic School Bus cartoons and I think they would have a great time playing with it.
It’s a neat toy! My kids recognized it from watching “Kipper”.
What a great video. It was a little over my son’s head but we enjoyed the first half a lot!
Her videos tend to start off easy and get increasingly complex like that.
That looks like a fun experiment. To tell you the truth it has been a while since I did something fun like that with my kids. Although, my six-year-old loves science and he’s always begging to do experiments together. I’m just going to have to schedule this in my calendar!
We have tried the tin cans and string…and YES, it worked…but not very well! :) This looks like a much better option!
This version works great!
We LOVE Vi Hart’s videos!!
She’s brilliant :)
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