Real world problem: You and your friends want to send messages to each other across a long distance (a soccer field, a lake, etc) during the day. It’s too bright outside to see each other’s flashlights. How could you communicate to each other using objects from your surroundings?

Educational outcomes

  • Students are able to articulate ideas on how they could communicate with their friends across long distances.
  • Students are able to organize, represent, and interpret data between the categories of pitch and loudness.
  • Students can plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound.
  • Students can plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that sound can cause materials to vibrate.

STEAM INTEGRATION

For the design challenge at the end of this unit, students will be asked to create devices that allow them to communicate using sounds rather than speech. To prepare for the challenge, students will be learning how different sounds can be created by various vibrating materials. They will learn that sound pitch and volume can change depending on the size of vibrating object. To learn these concepts, students will conduct tests on various objects in their school and home environment and classify these objects by pitch and loudness.

 

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Unit Materials

This unit can be completed using RAFT’s Makerspace-in-a-box kit 
or a variety of reusable materials such as:

Design Thinking Overview

Our design thinking units have five phases based on the d.school’s model. Each phase can be repeated to allow students to re-work and iterate while developing deeper understanding of the core concepts. These are the five phases of the design thinking model:

EMPATHIZE: Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing.  Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.

DEFINE: Process and synthesize the findings from your empathy work in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.

IDEATE: Explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a large quantity of diverse possible solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of ideas.

PROTOTYPE: Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy.

TEST: Try out high-resolution products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view.

The Design Thinking Process | ReDesigning Theater. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2016, from http://dschool.stanford.edu/redesigningtheater/the-design-thinking-process/

STEAM Integrated Standards

NGSS – 1-PS4-1: Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate. [Clarification Statement: Examples of vibrating materials that make sound could include tuning forks and plucking a stretched string. Examples of how sound can make matter vibrate could include holding a piece of paper near a speaker making sound and holding an object near a vibrating tuning fork.]

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.MD.C.4: Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

Suggestions for pacing and differentiation

Suggestions for pacing:

  • The introductory lesson could be dropped if needed. It acts as a primer for the following lessons but is not required.
  • Communication with sound could be dropped if needed. It allows students to practice sending messages through sound however it is not required to complete educational outcomes.

Suggestions for differentiation:

  • If available, take a speaker and play music next to the basin of water. How does the water react? If a speaker is not available, have students watch this video. Have students draw their observations.
  • If available, place cardboard over a speaker and cover the cardboard with a thin layer of sand. Play a sustained sound through the speaker and look at the patterns the sand creates. Change the pitch of the sound and notice how the pattern in the sand changes. Play music and watch the sand dance around. Have students draw their observations.
  • As an alternative to sand, consider using chalk. Chalk may help visualize the vibration patterns by leaving a mark after it has been brushed off the drum. Consider using black construction paper or black cloth between the drum and chalk to improve contrast.

Project: Have students make a drum using materials readily available to them. This can be an arts and craft project if desired. An example drum creating project can be found here. Next, have students sprinkle sand over the top of their drum and have them hit the drum from the underside several times. Does the sand form particular patterns? Have students draw their observations.

Lesson Overview

To prepare students to understand the learning objective, we’ll teach them about the real world uses of Morse code.

Essential Questions:

  • What are some different ways people can communicate with each other?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

Student Direction

Sample teacher and student dialog

T: Start a discussion with students on forms of communication. “What are some ways we can communicate with each other? For example, I’m communicating to you by talking to you right now. I also write notes to you on your homework. What are some ways you communicate?”

S: Students may suggest the following methods of communication. Encourage creativity:

  • Talking
  • Sign language
  • Flashing a light on and off
  • Hitting an object
  • Binary numbers
  • Calling them on the phone.
  • Using Skype or a similar service.

T: Encourage students to critically think about the suggestions made by the class. “What is your favourite way of communicating? Why is it your favourite?”

S: Student’s provide their input and thoughts.

T: “What way of communicating do you not like? Why don’t you like communicating that way?”

S: Student’s provide their input and thoughts.

T: “Have you ever tried telling someone something who was standing really far away from you? Like on the other side of a soccer field? Did you have to yell? Could they understand you?”

S: Student’s provide their input and thoughts.

T: “This has been a problem for a thousands of years. How do you send messages to people really far away? Cell phones and the internet are new things.” Teacher reads and discusses history of communication document.

T: Have students form groups. “I’d like you to spend the next few minutes looking around the classroom with your group for things you can use to communicate with each other without talking to each other. For example, I found this tennis ball and a pencil. When I hold the tennis ball over my head, it means yes. When I hold the pencil over my head, it means no. Could someone ask me a question that only needs a yes or no answer?”

S: Students ask a few questions that elicit yes or no answer.

T: Teacher communicates by holding appropriate object over his/her head.

i-have-a-ball


Lesson Materials

Other

  • Pictures to illustrate the use of different communication techniques through history.

Media

Learning Targets

  • Students are able to articulate ideas on how they could communicate with their friends across long distances.

Lesson Overview

This lesson will give students a chance to notice objects within their space that can be used to make sound.

Essential Questions:

  • What do you have to do to make sound?
  • Does an object make sound if nothing is moving?
  • What objects make loud/quiet sounds?
  • What objects have high/low pitches?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

  • Make available a variety of objects that can be used to make sounds.
  • Be prepared to assign groups in class.

loud-vs-quiet-sounds

 

Student Direction

T: Ask students to identify objects that make sound. “Can anyone tell me the name of an object that makes sound?”

S: Students present ideas. Allow students to be creative.

T: “Those are great suggestions. Do you notice any common themes or traits between those objects? What do you have to do to the objects to get them to make sound? Does an object make sound when it moves?

S: Students provide input.

T: Have students pick objects in the classroom that they could make sounds with. Let them try making sounds with the object. “I’d like each of you to try and find an object in the classroom that makes a loud sound. Be sure to try several objects. I’d like you to answer the following questions in your Maker Journal. What do you need to do to get the object to make a sound? Is the sound loud or soft? Is the sound high pitch or low pitch?”

S: Students go off and explore the different sounds various objects can make. Some examples of possible objects that could be used to make sound include: hand clapping, undersides of desks, wastebaskets, buckets, tin cans.

T: “I’d like us to make two piles in the center of the classroom. One pile will have objects that only make loud sounds. The other pile will have objects that only make quiet sounds. Be sure to add a few of the objects in each pile to your Maker Journal.”

S: Students separate objects into two piles.

T: Have students recategorize objects into 2 piles, one based off high-pitch, and one based off low-pitch. Next, Have students select a few objects of their choice and as a class go to a large open area such as a gym or field.

S: Students participate in activities.

T: Bring the class back together as one group. “Which objects could you hear really well from the other side of the field? Which object couldn’t you hear?”

S: Allow students to articulate thoughts.


 

Lesson Materials

Building Materials

  • list

Connecting Materials

  • list

Tech

  • list

Other

Media

None

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Learning Targets

  • Students are able to organize, represent, and interpret data between the categories of pitch and loudness.
  • Students are able to ask and answer questions about the total number of objects tested, how many objects in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.
  • Student is able to document observations on provided handout.
  • Students can plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound.

Assessment

Teacher Assessment
  • Can the student verbally explain or demonstrate how an object makes sound?

Lesson Overview

This lesson will allow students to understand the relationship between vibrating objects and sound.

Essential Questions:

  • What creates sound?
  • How does the sound change as the string is tightened or loosened?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

  • Set up the classroom to show internet video.

Student Direction

T: “I’d like to get 3 volunteers please. Come up to the front of the class. I’d like two of you to hold an end of the string. Great, now pull the string so it’s taught. I’d like our last volunteer here to pluck the string. Great! Now let’s make the string even tighter. And let’s pluck it again. Now let’s make the string loose, but keep it tight enough so that the string is still straight. And let’s pluck it again.” Address the class. “What did you notice? Did the string make a sound? How does the sound change as the string is tightened or loosened? How does the sound change as the string gets longer and shorter?

S: Allow students to articulate their observations.

T: “It’s hard to see what the string is doing when we pluck it, so I have a quick video for us to watch.”

string-pluck


Lesson Materials

Other

  • A length of string or rubber bands
  • Ability to show internet videos to classes.
  • Maker journal page, 1 per student

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Learning Targets

  • Students can plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound.
  • Student is able to verbally or physically demonstrate an understanding that sound is produced by a vibrating object.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their findings and share different critical uses for water and methods of freshwater transportation that they discover in their research. Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in transporting freshwater.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their findings around different critical uses for water and methods of freshwater transportation that they discovered in their research. Students should also share about the difficulties in transporting freshwater.

Lesson Overview

This lesson will help students understand how the sound is able to vibrate other objects.

Essential Questions:

  • Does sound cause other objects to vibrate?
  • How does the pitch and volume of sound change the ripples on water?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

  • Make available a variety of objects that can be used to make sounds.
  • Fill up several containers with water for students to use.
  • Provide drawing supplies for students.
  • Ability to show internet video.

Student Direction

T: Split the students into small groups. Each group gets a bucket partially filled with water. “I’d like you to take a few of the objects that we found made loud sounds. I’d like you to make those sounds over the bucket of water. Draw what you saw in your Maker Journal.”

S: Students make sounds over buckets of water.

T: “What did you notice when you made the sound over the water? What did the water do?”

S: Allow students to articulate their observations.

T: “We learned earlier that moving objects make sound. This experiment we did shows us the reverse is true. Sound is also able to move objects! I want to show you a video that helps demonstrate this concept a bit more clearly than we were able to do here today.”


Lesson Materials

Other

  • A length of string or rubber bands
  • Ability to show internet videos to classes.
  • Maker journal page, 1 per student

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Learning Targets

  • Students can plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound.
  • Student is able to verbally or physically demonstrate an understanding that sound is produced by a vibrating object.

Assessment

Student Self Assessment

Student groups review their makerspace journal and summarize their learning in a group discussion

Peer Assessment

Student groups discuss and compare their findings and share different critical uses for water and methods of freshwater transportation that they discover in their research. Students should also share the difficulties that they discovered in transporting freshwater.

Teacher Assessment

Review student makerspace journal pages for formative assessment and discuss with individual groups as they work.

Conduct a whole group discussion to allow all students to share, discuss and compare their findings around different critical uses for water and methods of freshwater transportation that they discovered in their research. Students should also share about the difficulties in transporting freshwater.

Lesson Overview

This lesson will allow students to practice communicating to each other using sound, specifically the historically widely used Morse Code.

Essential Questions:

  • Does sound cause other objects to vibrate?
  • How does the pitch and volume of sound change the ripples on water?

LESSON PROCEDURE:

  • Familiarize yourself with how Morse code has been used historically, and how it works.
  • Prepare to assign groups or partners to students.
  • Prepare a few sample messages to have students try and figure out.  Some sample messages may include. Use this morse translator to come up with new messages

Student Direction

T: “We’ve talked a bit about ways humans used to communicate to each other across long distances. You might remember we talked about the telegraph, and how Morse code is used to convey messages through the telegraph. We’re going to practice a few words using Morse code together, and then you can break off into small groups and send messages to each other.”

  • SOS: short whistle, short whistle, short whistle / long whistle-long, whistle-long, long-whistle / short whistle, short whistle, short whistle
  • Hello: short whistle, short whistle, short whistle, short whistle / short whistle / long whistle, short whistle, short whistle / long whistle, short whistle, short whistle /long whistle-long, whistle-long, long-whistle
  • Note: If you decide to demonstrate morse code with clapping, be sure to emphasize the difference between a pause between letters, and the pause that occurs on long tones (“dat”).


Lesson Materials

Other

  • Print copies of Morse code chart for students to refer to if desirable.
  • A whistle

Learning Targets

  • Students are able to communicate basic messages using Morse code.

Assessment

Teacher Assessment

Students are able to communicate basic messages using Morse code.

Introduce the Design Challenge

T: Explain the challenge to students. “You and your friends want to send messages to each other across a long distance (a soccer field, a lake, etc) during the day. It’s too bright outside to see each other’s flashlights. How could you communicate to each other using objects from your surroundings? I’d like you to look for several objects both here in the classroom and at home that you could use to send messages across long distances. I’d also like you to come up with a way to communicate messages to each other. You can make your own code up, or you can use Morse code, whichever you’d like.”

S: Students can spend part of class time planning which materials they will use as well as creating their communication code.

T: The next day, bring the class to a large open space, such as a soccer field. Measure and mark the following distances from the location of the class. 5 feet, 15 feet, 30 feet, 50 feet, or more. Explain the challenge to the class. “Each of you will play your noise making device at each marker, and together we’ll try and figure out the message you are trying to send us.” Have students record their observations in their maker journal.

S: Students will complete the activity.

T: Regroup the students after the activity is done. “Whose object was really easy to hear from far away? Was there any objects you couldn’t hear at the 50 feet mark? Did you find it was easier to hear high-pitch or low-pitch noises?”

S: Allow students to articulate their thoughts on the experiment.

Criteria & Constraints

Review the criteria and constraints with students.  Engineers design things using some rules about how the designs must behave or work.  These rules are called criteria.  Engineers can run out of materials, money, time to build, or space in which to build something.  In other words there are limits on how something can be built.  These limits are called constraints.  The criteria and constraints for this challenge are below.

 

Criteria (design requirements) Constraints (design limitations)
  • Object is capable of producing a loud sound that can be heard from a distance.
  • The object is able to produce sounds in rapid succession (there is no long delay between each sound produced).
  • Object can produce a minimum of two different pitches.
  • Students have added their own creative flare to their devices.

Ideate
You and your friends want to send messages to each other across a long distance (a soccer field, a lake, etc) during the day. It’s too bright outside to see each other’s flashlights. How could you communicate to each other using objects from your surroundings?

Student Directions

Using materials in the classroom or found at home, find a way to communicate messages using sound across long distances. Can you make a sound louder by making your object bigger? Brainstorm which objects you think would produce the loudest sounds. Have your classmates help you if you need new ideas! Also come up with a way to communicate using your sound device. You can use Morse Code if you are stuck!

 

Prototype

Have students look for various objects around the home or in the class that they could use to produce loud sounds. Objects could include buckets, sticks, tin cans, etc. Next, have the students try to communicate to each other using the objects they’ve chosen.

Student Directions

Take the materials you’ve found and assemble it. Have your classmates help you if you need extra hands.

 

Test your Design

Have students test their designs in an open space.

Student Directions

  • Student direction: Can your classmates hear your instrument from 5 feet away? 15 feet? 30 feet? 50 feet? 100 feet or more? Do some pitches travel farther than others? Write/draw your thoughts in your Maker Journal.
  • Can you send messages to your classmates clearly? Could you hear the messages? Did your communication system work?
  • Which sound devices in your class were the loudest? The quietest? Which were high-pitched or low-pitched? Why they think these qualities differ between sound devices? Write or draw your thoughts in your Maker Journal.

 

 

Design Challenge Materials

 

Other

  • Print copies of Morse code chart for students to refer to if desirable.
  • A large area, such as a field or a gym
  • Maker Journal, 1 per student
  • Markers

Maker Journal Pages

dl-student

Teacher Notes

  • Make necessary preparations to allow students to test their sounds outside or in the gymnasium.
  • Students can work individually or in groups to design and build something that can make a loud sound at different pitches.  Give students time to build multiple prototypes, or multiple iterations.

 

Learning Targets

  • Students are able to plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.
  • Students are able to find and use objects that can be used to communicate over a long distance.
  • Students are able to communicate basic messages using Morse code or their own communication code.
  • Students are able to organize, represent, and interpret data between the categories of pitch and loudness.
  • Students are able to ask and answer questions about the total number of objects tested, how many objects in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

Assessment

Teacher Assessment
  • Students build a device capable of making sound.
  • Students are able to classify the sounds of their classmates devices based off pitch and sound volume.
  • Students are able to send basic messages to each other using their sound producing device.