Friday, December 4, 2015

Building a Musical Instrument

One of my students' favorite units is our unit on the Physics of Sound.  Middle schoolers LOVE music, whether they are in the Fine Arts program or just active listeners to their MP3's.  So, when I tell them they are going to have a chance to learn more about those sounds and then design an instrument of their own, they're pretty excited!

We start with learning the physics of sound by doing several online simulations along with some research.  Then, with that knowledge, we learn about sound waves using a Slinky toy.  Be prepared to address potential silliness with this BEFORE the lab.  We always review the difference between having fun and being immature :)  

Designing the instruments, requires some research, but most students jump right in to figuring out how their instrument can be the best.  The instrument needs to be able to play three different notes and repeat those notes three times.  YouTube videos are great for this if your school has access to that.

We used a variety of recycled materials - some that I provided in the classroom and others that students chose to bring themselves.  During the planning and design phase, students draw their project and create a materials list before construction begins.

One of our more interesting final products was this carrot recorder:

If you'd like the full lesson, it is available here to download.

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