Project: STEM Smartphone Speakers
A favorite in all of my STEM classes, this project aligns with the vibration, sound, and sound waves unit. It incorporates creative thinking, problem-solving, inventiveness, and fun. Every time I introduced this project, STEM students all over the classroom would gasp with excitement. After all, it meant they were allowed to use their cell phones in class.
For this project, students are challenged to harness the sound waves coming out of their phones and channel them into homemade speakers. They are allowed to use a range of recyclables, but nothing electronic. This requires inventiveness and creativity.
I always start STEM projects like this with a quick Google search displayed on the front board. I simply search a few keywords, such as “homemade smartphone speakers.” Students get to see other designs and begin to determine a plan of action. This works as a great visual aid and engagement tool.
The next step is to explain the design constraints and for students to start planning their designs. My students are required to write as many ideas as they can down. For sound waves, they are expected to include them in their sketches. Quite often, when I circle around the room monitoring the progress of the groups, there is always a lot of talk of the sound levels they are hoping to create.
Once designs are completed and approved, it is time for the fun to begin. Students eagerly dive into the activity. My classroom is always a-buzz with the sound of kids on-task and enjoying the learning experience. This is when learning truly occurs.
I have created the instructions for this project in my What is Sound? Waves Lesson Plan. These directions are both visual and written catering to a wider range of learning styles. While this is designed as a science project, STEM classes also find it to align well with their curriculum.
What is Sound? Vibration and Energy
When it comes to sound, vibration and energy are key concepts to focus on. Be it a dolphin sound or a tornado siren, sound is a type of energy that travels through the air in the form of waves. These waves are created when an object vibrates or moves back and forth quickly. The vibrations create pressure changes in the air, which then travel through the air as sound waves.
For example, when someone speaks, their vocal cords vibrate, creating pressure changes in the air. These pressure changes travel through the air as sound waves. The same thing occurs with animals like sheep, a dog, or a goat. Sound waves are created when they cause pressure changes in the air. The waves reach our ears and our eardrums vibrate in response, allowing us to hear the sound.
Sound can also travel through other materials, such as water and solid objects, but it travels more quickly and efficiently through the air. Different sounds can also have different properties, such as pitch (high or low) and loudness (soft or loud).
It’s a fundamental concept of Physics and it’s very important for children to understand the basic principles of sound to help them understand the surrounding world better. Vibration, sound, and energy are all tied together.
More Sound Project Ideas
There are many STEM projects that involve the study of sound waves. Here are a few examples:
- Build a simple sound wave generator: Students can create a simple sound wave generator by attaching a metal rod to an oscillator circuit. The circuit can be adjusted to create different frequencies of sound waves, which students can observe and measure using a microphone and oscilloscope.
- Musical Instrument Project: STEM students love this project! The task is to design and build a musical instrument, such as a guitar or xylophone, that utilizes sound waves. They can experiment with different materials and designs to see how they affect the sound produced by the instrument.
- Study the properties of sound waves: Students can experiment with different sound sources, such as tuning forks or speakers, and measure the properties of the sound waves they produce. They can use a microphone and oscilloscope to measure the frequency, amplitude, and wavelength of the sound waves.
- Soundproofing materials: Students can conduct experiments to evaluate the sound-absorbing properties of different materials, such as foam, fiberglass, and mineral wool, and compare them with each other. They can also explore different design options to construct a soundproofing device.
- Study of sound waves in liquids: Students can conduct experiments to observe the behavior of sound waves in different liquids and compare them with air. They can also try to measure the speed of sound in liquids.
- These are just a few examples, but there are many other possibilities for STEM projects related to sound waves. The key is to provide students with an opportunity to engage in hands-on learning and explore the concepts in a real-world context.
It Sounds Like this Might be the End
Sound, vibration, and energy are all concepts that can be taught through hands-on learning. There is no need for a traditional lecture. The incorporation of these comic packages melds a lesson plan template, clip art, and active learning. All of my projects are low-prep, low-cost, and creativity-based.
Sign up for the Cool School Comic newsletter for updates and FREE comics!