GEMS 4th graders are making waves with sound! This lesson was a presented as a component of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative at the school.

What is Sound? Sound is a type of energy made by vibrations. When any object vibrates, it causes movement in the air particles. These particles bump into the particles close to them, which makes them vibrate too causing them to bump into more air particles. This movement, called sound waves, keeps going until they run out of energy. If your ear is within range of the vibrations, you hear the sound.

3gemswaves4Picture a stone thrown into a still body of water. The rings of waves expand indefinitely. The same is true with sound. Irregular repeating sound waves create noise, while regular repeating waves produce musical notes.

gemswaves5When the vibrations are fast, you hear a high note. When the vibrations are slow, it creates a low note.   Here are some targeted questions:

  • How do transverse and longitudinal waves travel?
  • How does sound allow us to hear?
  • How does light allow us to see?


  1. Waves, which are regular patterns of motion, can be made in water by disturbing the surface.  When waves move across the surface of deep water, the water goes up and down in place; there is no net motion in the direction of the wave except when the water meets a beach.
  2. Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort and classify natural phenomena.
  3. Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.
  4. Waves of the same type can differ in amplitude (height of the wave) and wavelength (spacing between wave peaks).
  5. Recognize that sound is produced by vibrating objects and requires a medium through which to travel.  Relate the rate of vibration to the pitch of the sound.

Action Plan Target 1- Proficiency-Based Personalized Learning:  FWSU students and staff design and engage in proficiency-based personalized learning that integrates collaborative inquiry, problem solving, and creativity.

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