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Lesson Plan

Sound: instruments and how animals hear

Make musical instruments and sing a song to explore how we hear. Hear like a snake, and play a game to show how it is hard for whales to communicate with the noise pollution in the ocean.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Sensing, Organ Systems (4, 5, 6)
Physics: Light and Sound (1)
Curriculum connection (2005 science topic): 
Life Science: Animal Growth and Changes (grade 2)
Physical Science: Light and Sound (grade 4)

Sing a familiar song, with accompanying ukelele or other instrument.

How did we make all that sound? What is sound?
Sound starts with a vibration. See the string vibrating. Feel our throat vibrating - easier to do if it is a low note.

How does that sound get to our ear?
The vibrations of the string, or the vibrations of our throat make the air vibrate.
The air is made of tiny tiny things called molecules. They vibrate back and forth, which makes the next ones vibrate, and the next ones, spreading out into the air.
Inside our ear the vibrations continue, through our ear drum,

Let’s show how these vibrations move. This is a model of the moving vibrations.

Make recycled water bottle instrument
Hand out shaker

Repeat song, taking turns to play instruments for different verses.
Shakers keep the rhythm. Sax can improvise. Singers keep the tune.

What about other animals? How do they hear?

Now we’ll learn a bit about how other animals hear. We hear through the air - our outer ear is shaped to collect sound effectively. Cats and dogs have a larger outer ear that can also move, so they hear much better than us.

Other animals hear through the ground and through water and so hear things differently from us.

Snakes have no outer ear like us. How do you think they hear vibrations? They feel it with their bodies, with their bones. They don’t feel the vibrations from the air, but vibrations through the ground. Sound through solids
(Add in Hearing through our bones)

We have talked about sounds going through air, with our ears, and through solids, like a snake. What about animals that live in the ocean?
Listen to whale sounds. These sounds travel through water for hundreds of kilometers.
Whales hear through their throat, which passes the sound to their inner ear.

Whales comminucate across 100s of km of ocean. With more and more human activity in the ocean it is getting harder for them.
Play the noise pollution game.

Grades tested: 
Gr 2
Gr 3
Site tested: