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Vermilion Parish Schools

Activity 2: Wave Time! (GLEs: 2, 3, 4, 10, 22)

Materials List: plastic dish pans or 9 x 12 baking pans, eye droppers, pitchers, water, science learning logs, Science Learning Log Recording Sheet BLM (optional), Science Learning Log Rubric BLM

What would sound waves look like if you could see them?  This investigation is designed to answer this question.  The students will observe a pattern of waves similar to sound waves that will serve to model.

Investigation Task:  Divide students into small groups. Review previous lesson and engage students in a discussion using the question, “What would sound waves look like if you could see them?” Explain that each group will observe and investigate a pattern of waves similar to sound waves. Describe the following procedure (you may want to put it on the board or a chart) and have students engage in the task.

  1. Fill the pan with about 1 inch of water.
  2. Use the eyedropper to drop a single drop of water in the pan near one end.
  3. Observe the waves or ripples.
  4. Discuss with your partners the following questions:

What do you see?  What happens to the ripples? How does this show or demonstrate what a sound wave might look like?

Have a designated materials manager get a pan, an eyedropper, and water for each group and begin investigation.

Once students have completed the task and discussion, have them record observations and new learning through illustrations and writing in their science learning log (view literacy strategy descriptions). This log is a notebook that students keep in content classrooms in order to record ideas, questions, reactions, new understandings, or visual representations such as diagrams, charts, etc. Documenting ideas in a log about content being studied forces students to “put into words” what they know or do not know.  This process offers a reflection of understanding that can lead to further study and alternative learning paths.  It combines writing and reading with content learning. Students can write freely in their science learning logs or use the optional Science Learning Log Recording Sheet BLM provided.  An assessment rubric for science learning log entries is provided as the Science Learning Log Rubric BLM. 


*Remind students that this investigation only illustrates what a sound wave might look like if you could see it and that it is not an actual sound wave.

**Students may need a demonstration of how to work an eyedropper.

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