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I have a unit coming up on waves for my 7th graders - it includes sound, light, and the electromagnetic spectrum. This is new curriculum for me in my state - any practical, hand-on inquiry activities that don't require a lot of expensive materials? Resources here in the Learning Center you have used?
I'd be happy for any advice regarding misconceptions in this area of science as well, I find it to be a bit of an abstract unit for 7th graders.
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I'm working through the Nature of Light SciPack and it has great info in it. Also, discusses student misconceptions.
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Do you have tuning forks?
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I'll check with the music teacher to see if she might have some I can borrow; I don't have any myself.
Ok. A big hit. Relationship between wavelength and frequency(pitc). Straw flutes. A regular drinking sraw. Mash the end mostly flat with your front teeth. Cut the flattened end into a triangle(sometimes anear triangle trapezoid works better). Then blow into the end. You will have an easier time if you habe ever played a reed instrument. If it doesnt sound pinch the reed a bit with your lips... Orblow harder... It will make a pseudomusical sound. I mean, it is just a straw after all. If you get it making a sound you can cut it about an inch at a time while you are blowing and go up the scale.
Next. Hand out a bunch of straws and scissors. Once you have them playing make a lesson out of it.
I can borrow tuning forks from the music teacher; if you have a moment to share how you use them in your class, that'd be great. Thanks for the input.
One way to address the electromagnetic spectrum is to have the students look for uses of each of the major types of waves. I just finished reviewing an article about radio waves. It is called Science Sampler: Radio-wave inquiry with web-controlled receivers and it is a journal article from the Learning Center. Alll you need is a basic home radio and the equipment is online. Along thos lines there is another LC journal article about radio waves that might be of interest to students. It is called:
Science 101: Why Do You Lose AM Radio Reception When You Go Under an Overpass?
Make it real to them and they will learn.
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At the end of the electromagnetic Spectrum unit a fun Lab to do is a microwave chocolate lab. There are a lot of cook book lab reports online for the microwave chocolate lab, which range in difficulty levels. So what you do is take the rotating plate out of the microwave and melt a plain bar of hershey chocolate( it works the best) and measure the speed and compare it to the speed of light(also explain how microwaves work). Two spots (which are were the wave burnt the chocolate) will burn and the rest of the bar barley melts. The Students really enjoy it and most of them its the first time they ever thought about how a microwave worked. If you like this idea.. Just google microwave chocolate lab
Here is a link to get you started
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Students just love to look at 'waves on a slinky' and slinkies are the most commonly used medium to have students explore wave speed, wave length, wave frequency, wave amplitude, transverse waves, and longitudinal waves. Even small slinkies are good to use and they may be found in dollar stores. Long slinkies are wonderful and if you can get you hands on a long coiled length of spring, search out Lowes or get a length of rubber tubing that is light and flexible, perhaps something like a light garden hose to use. There are many activities already out there for studying waves on slinkies and long flexible tubes. Google a bit and see what you find. if you want more suggestions, give us another shout.
Possible serch words - waves on a slinky
waves on flexible tubes
waves on strings
We look forward to hearing back from you,Nicole. And others, too. Thanks for sharing.
ps --do an advanced search within the Lerning Center, too..... :}
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Hi patricia, Thanks for the suggestions. I'm doing a slinky lab with my students and also trying to figure out other ways to demonstrate waves to help them understand it. I also wanted to know what else there was to do with the slinky besides what our testbook suggested - showing longitudinal and transverse waves. Any more suggestions dealing with any type of waves would be great! (we're moving to sound and electromagnetic waves next).
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I wish I visited this discussion earlier to use some of these great ideas! We recently completed our unit on waves, so it may be a little too late to incorporate some of the activities shared. I would like to try the straw activity next year!
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There are a lot of great ideas here! I have never heard of the chocolate bar microwave lab, I think my students would really like to see that.
For the Electromagnetic Spectrum, I have been doing a co-operative learning/research project where I assign each section of the spectrum to a group. They then have to do a research project on it to find out specific things (wavelength, frequency, uses, history, discovery, dangers, etc) and make a presentation to the class about their section. I spend 2-3 weeks on it, but if you were pressed for time, you could prepare packets of research materials for each group (I have also done this in the past). It's not a lab, but it is a lot more engaging and interesting than direct instruction. It's also a good way to introduce research and what is a good source,etc. A version of this to get you started can be found here, "http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers/free-lesson-plans/the-electromagnetic-spectrum-waves-of-energy.cfm". Good luck, waves and the EMS are actually some of my favorite topics to cover.
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What grade are you teaching?
I did a quick search of the Learning Center to find some resources on teaching about sound and will share a few of them here. Perhaps you and other readers of this thread will adapt one of the strategies to your classroom and then share how it went with us. That would be loverly!
1. Sound Waves
By: Michael Horton
Grade Level: High School -book chapter - relationship between frequency and pitch
2. How Sound Gets Around
By: William C. Robertson, Ph.D.
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School - another book chapter
3.Inquiry-Based Investigation on the Internet: Sound and the Human Ear
By: Kevin Quinlan and Donna R. Sterling
Grade Level: Middle School - brings in physiology, too
4. Waves Do Basic Math--Adding and Subtracting
By: William C. Robertson, Ph.D.
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School- book chapter by an author much admired for his Stop Faking It books
5. Waving Strings
By: William C. Robertson, Ph.D.
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School (and of course stringed instruments are neat and easy to make and to study)
Unless you really haven't been paying attention to the world around you, you know that plucked strings produce sounds. Carlos Santana demonstrates this on a regular basis. Because stringed instruments are so commonly used to produce sounds, we're going to spend a chapter figuring out what exactly those strings are doing when you pluck them. We're going to be analyzing what happens when you produce waves on strings. These waves produce sounds,... [view full summary]
6. for Tin Can Telephones - often a winner among students out on the football field
The Neighborhood Telephone System
By: Richard Konicek-Moran
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
7. a journal article on how to set up stations for middle school exploration
ried and True: Sensations of sound
By: Pamela J. Galus
Grade Level: Middle School
8. After the Bell: Science of the symphony II: Sound intensity
By: Stephen J. Farenga, Beverly A. Joyce, and Daniel Ness
Grade Level: Middle School (journal article)
9. and then there are so many resources on how to study insect sounds and use technology to measure the speed of sound or to investigate sound as it is produced within the real world
Go ahead and explore some of these resources and share some of your own.
Just wanted to share what I came up with during my "wave unit" with 3rd graders:
1) The straws totally worked! I actually "hid" the ends from my students and gave them the weekend to try to figure out how the vibrations/sounds were made, giving the hint that there were 2 cuts to make.
2) Using examples for the doppler effect (emergency vehicles) gave them some perspective on how sound waves carry.
3) If you access to jumpropes, you could show your students about amplitude and identify the crests/troughs of your waves. I'm sure it could be more of an interactive with your middle school students in a directed model lab.
4) Musical instruments in general would work. In addition to the straw above, I've had students use rubber bands over empty tissue boxes to make their own instruments. Using your school's band instruments would work, too: snare drum, double-reeded instruments, bass, etc.
5) You could even consider a clear tub of water over an overhead project and tapping the sides to show wave patterns. Add blocks to show how waves change when it hits.
I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but hope that might give you additional options for your unit. I don't have any ideas about showing electromagnets. Good luck!
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Hey, all great ideas for waves...but are there any suggestions for light waves and color? Especially for low-level readers in high school...
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While I love Slinky’s they can get gnarled so fast. I found if I went to most of the dollar stores right around holiday times I could get spools of those plastic beads often used for wrapping “ribbon”. I’ve gotten them in lengths of 20 or 30 feet, which is really fun to try to manipulate in a hallway. We unravel the beads, put one person on each end, then have them do the same thing as you would a slinky, but no coiling. My middle school kids really like to see how they make the different patterns and are totally in awe when they finally get both ends in sync. Way too much fun. They always want to try the same thing with different lengths of beads. The looks on their faces are priceless.
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One of my favorite resources of all time is Dr. William Robertson’s “Stop Faking It!” series. One of his books is dedicated totally to Light and is filled with all sorts of really good ideas and labs to use with students of all ages. There are two chapters, “Colorful Waves” and “When Light Waves Collide” that are amongst my favorites. The link to the book is http://nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9780873552158 Dr. Robertson does such a great job explaining all of the Science, combined with really fun cartoons, as well as the activities that use materials that are easy to find, all students are immediately engaged.
My middle school students, as well as many adults, really love playing with bubbles. I buy lots of bottles of them at Dollar Tree, and it’s amazing what kids do with them. I am attaching an NSTA article on Blowing Bubbles: An Interdisciplinary Science and Mathematics Lab. This lab was one of the favorites amongst my middle school students as well because they loved blowing and measuring the bubbles. They were fascinated with being able to create the 3-D shapes and all of the colors they saw as well as the complex shapes they were able to create.
Blowing Bubbles: An Interdisciplinary Science and Mathematics Lab (Journal Article)
Here's another sound wave activity: I use a kit called "Physics of Music" from the lab suppliers, it cost $53, but you can probably make it yourself. It includes 15 pieces of PVC pipes cut in various lengths. When air inside the pipe sections are vibrated, it produces a note. Students really enjoy playing easy songs such as "Mary as a little lamb" or "happy birthday" together as a class (you clap each PVC section onto your palm and it produces a note). Afterwards, I explain about nodes and wave lengths inside the tube, etc.
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Sandy, what a wonderful idea about wrapping beads, although I can not picture them in my head. I'll have to go to the store and look for them. neat -o.
I taught ocean waves and related it to energy, sound and light as well. Living in Hawaii we are surrounded by ocean and my students were able to understand the concept of waves more when I related it to ocean waves because energy is carried through the water particles to make ocean waves. During earthquakes that's a lot of energy that get's released in the ocean making tsunamis.
I used a old long piece of carpet, fabric, a long rope or slinky having the object stretched out with two students holding opposite ends. One student moves the object using their hand in an up and down motion. Students should see the movement of waves going from one student's hand to the other. This helps students get a visual of how waves move through the air with light, sound and energy through air particles because many times if they can't see it is harder for students to understand the concept. Energy moves through waves in water molecules and air particles.
I hope gives an idea at least.
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If there is a theater nearby or at the high school try and take a trip there and have someone on the lighting crew demonstrate what happens when they turn the different colors of light on the stage or on your students who are standing on the stage - what colors do their clothing change to as the lights change?
If you can find colored transparencies or colored plastic food wrap, you can put them over flashlights - you want the primary colors of light (they are not the same as for paints/pigments - which is another fun experiment, actually!) green, red, and blue - mix them together to make white light, mix them in combinations to make other colors like they do on the stage. There are also companies that sell colored flashlights and I found some on clearance once in the auto section of the KMart as key rings (and just the right colors!).
Then find a picture using these colors of pigments and shine the different lights on it and see parts of the picture "disappear". Because light has to be reflected to be seen, the colors that are absorbed become "invisible". Have a contest to make the most clever picture. Students are more likely to remember that we can only see objects that reflect light - all the more important as they are trying to develop "invisible" cars like on the AP news last week. And for St. Patrick's day each year, our local weatherman wears a green blazer and "disappears" into the green screen - Fun! (there are some videos around on special effects that also show this). Different colors of waves interact in interesting ways and our eyes can detect and interpret them!
Mirrors to teach reflection are easy enough to come by - I get mine at the end of the school year by following the custodians as they clean lockers or you can also get them really cheap at the dollar store. Curved mirrors - that is a problem I am still working on. I tried cut cans but they really don't reflect well so we used soup spoons. The kids had a blast seeing themselves upside down. Shaving mirrors (also a dollar store purchace) are also popular. Waves can be reflected!
For refraction, we did the magnifying glass and I was lucky to find old lenses so I didn't have to scrounge for old eyeglasses from the family. But to demonstrate how waves refract, I actually used a can of food, a ramp, and a towel at an angle to show how the angle of the rolling can "bent" as it went through a "denser" material. Oh, and you should try to work in the blue sky demonstration if there is time. Try the lab described here http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/4/sc06_044_04_54
one of the nice things about this and the "bent pencil" activity is that you can SEE the light bend as it enters the water or "bending" something like the pencil. If the flashlight beam is too wide to see bend, try using a lazer pointer.
Sorry, I presented something on this at NSTA a couple years ago and never got around to writing it down or publishing it. It is just a variety of ideas I have "scrounged" over the years from different science lab books in our schools with no budgets for science supplies. There are all kinds of things you can actually buy, but these are inexpensive and help use visible light to explain some properties of light waves. I hope it is helpful.
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I just finished up a 6th grade lesson on EM and Mechanical waves. For the wrap up day I had them do a nature walk outside the classroom. They worked in groups of 3 to observe what they had learned over the last three weeks. They had to explain what they were seeing, hearing, or sensing in terms of "waves". Some of the groups really got it and talked about the different levels of energy. Others didn't quite get it and just talked generally about color or light or sound. Overall I think this was a great activity and I would do it again, but I might give them more time to find "evidence" to support the "waves" they are sensing.
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Although it may appear that the students did not all 'get it,' your summarizing activity, done outside (yea for you and the class:} may help to ladder student understanding for future growth and application to content areas involving waves and/or energy. I always found that having students experience for themselves and then write and/or converse about the focus of the experience to be a dynamic way to assess student understanding and to modify my strategies with future classes, just as you mentioned you will do. This is excellent growth for both the student and the teacher. Thanks so much for sharing on this topic. We look forward to hearing you voice again.
Hi Nicole -
I definitely recommend using tuning forks, strings and spoons (tie the string to the spoon, twirl the string around your fingers and place them in your ears) and the straw flutes. The kids eat these activities up! I'm attaching my 'lab' for the straw flutes. Feel free to modify it (I would love to hear what you change and how it went).
Straw_Mini-Lab.doc (0.08 Mb)
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A great activity is to have a worksheet with a large uncolored rainbow. Have the students color the rainbow with the proper "roygbiv". Have them cut each color out and link them together alternating one convexed then one concaved. If you tape it to the board or something you can see how the different colors make different wave lengths. It is a great visual.
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I have students create a "Wave Album". I get small photo albums from the dollar store. On onside they have a picture that represents a wave of some kind cut from a magazine or printed off the internet and on the opposite side they have an explanation as to why they chose the picture and how it relates to waves. I am attaching the assignment. Good luck!
7th_Grade_Wave_Album_Project.doc (0.03 Mb)
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I am a future teacher, and all of the ideas presented (from "Wave Albums" to relating wavelength and frequency using music) are very helpful and seem like fun ways of teaching this subject!
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Here is a collection of items from the Learning Center that are useful as design tools for lessons on waves. They easily are adapted for STEM at all levels of learning, too.
If possible get hold of Isaac Asimov's book on Understanding Physics. It is a three volume book and you would probably find that chapter in the first volume, the discussion provided there would be of great use to teach school level science
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Use practical every day items that depend on the E-M spectrum, like cell phones, radios, TV, lights, and so forth. Students can relate to these items.
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Do you have any suggestions on what to do with these telecommunication devises? How would you build a learning unit on waves around them? Thanks for sharing.
Not sure what grade level- but, I would start with the EMS. Since radio, cell phones, etc., are waves of the electro magnetic spectrum, I would want to include this in the unit of study. There are some neat lesson in the NASA Imagine the Universe series on this.
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Thanks for bringing Imagine the Universe, mainly for ages 14 and up, and Star Child, for those less than 14, to the attention of those reading this thread. Both of these NASA sites are chock full of many resources for the educator and deserve some in-depth perusal.
As a mentor, do you have any specific lessons or paths through the site that may be helpful to the first time user of this resource who is looking for specific ways to utilize student phones and other modern communication devices as tools for studying sound and waves? How would you use them to collect and analyze data? Are there lessons designed for this type of exploration embedded in Imagine the Universe? Thanks, in advance, for your guidance.
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