Package 4-2: Science – Light and sound

Join the scientists from Fizzics Education to learn about all about light and sound. Watch the video and then complete some of your own light and sound experiments at home.

Week 5 - Package 2 - Year 5 & 6 Science - Light and sound

Things your child will need

Have these things available so your child can complete this task.

Ideal

  • Light and Sound video

  • A plastic or paper cup (you can also use plastic containers from the recycling)

  • String

  • Scissors

  • Paperclips or sticky tape

  • Damp cloth or sponge

Optional: extension activity

  • Plastic bag (Zip-loc is easiest but others are fine)

  • Blank paper or a picture to cut out that will fit in the bag

  • Sticky tape if you don’t have a Zip-loc bag

  • Coloured pencils or textas

  • Permanent marker or Sharpie

  • Water in a clear container

  • Towel to dry any spills

Before your child starts

Warning: Making a small hole in the bottom of the cups may be difficult, always ask for an adult’s help if you’re not sure how to do this safely.

What your child needs to do

  1. Watch the Light and Sound video.

  2. Discuss the energy transformations required to make sound.

  3. Follow instructions on Activity sheet 1: Clucking cups (below).

  4. Discuss the results of the activity.

  • What problems did you have (if any)?

  • How does the cup make noise?

  • Does the sound remind you of other sounds you may have heard before?

What your child can do next

Follow the instructions on Extension activity: Vanishing pictures (below).

Discuss the results of the activity.

  • What problems did you have (if any)?

  • How does the viewing angle change the results you see?

  • Would using something other than water change the results?

  • Would filling the bag with air make a difference to what you see?

Options for your child

Activity too hard?

Have an adult prepare the cups or containers beforehand by making a small hole at the bottom. Can you use the materials to make a different instrument, or anything that makes a sound? How does your instrument vibrate to make that sound?

Activity too easy?

Try using cups or containers of different sizes for the Clucking cups activity, and record the data to find out if there is a relationship between container size and the pitch of the sound it makes. You can even plot the results on a chart!

  • Make a series of clucking cups with containers of different sizes.

  • Rank them in order of size and record the order.

  • Make sounds with them and rank them in order of pitch - either high to low or low to high, and record the order again.

  • Do the rankings change? If so, take a closer look at your containers. Can you find a reason why that might be?


Extension/Additional activity

  • Try Extension activity: Vanishing pictures

  • Learn about Foley (sound effects) and Foley artists.

  • Research how your favourite movies create sound effects.

  • Find or create Foley sounds for use in your next video production!

  • Learn about the refractive index of different materials.

  • Research how the refractive index can be a useful tool; for example in determining the purity of a gemstone.

  • Find out about mirages, another phenomenon created by refracting light!


Activity sheet 1: Clucking cups

Musical instruments produce sound by making vibrations. Hitting a drum vibrates the drum skin and the air molecules inside to generate a sound. You can play a recorder by blowing through the mouthpiece and vibrating the air. Let’s make our own instrument!

Equipment

  • Plastic or paper cup (you can also use plastic containers from the recycling)

  • String

  • Scissors

  • Paperclips or sticky tape

  • Damp cloth or sponge

Procedure:

  1. Make a small hole in the bottom of the cup with scissors, just big enough for the string to go through. Take care not to cut your hand!

  2. Cut a piece of string, at least 30 cm long.

  3. Take one end of the string and tie a knot around the paperclip, or wrap lots of sticky tape around it until it’s much larger than the hole.

  4. Thread the other end of the string through the hole in the bottom of the cup, so that the paper clip or tape is outside of the cup.

  5. Squeeze the damp sponge between your thumb and index finger to wet them.

  6. Pinch the string with your thumb and index finger, pull downwards in a jerky motion.

Our clucking cup makes a sound using friction! The vibrations made by wet fingers rubbing against the string travel up to the cup, and then the air and to our ears to produce the sound that we hear.

NOTE - You can tie a knot at the other end of the string after you have finished making the clucking cup, to stop the string from fraying.

Extension activity: Vanishing pictures

When we look at something through water it can be different to looking at it through air. Water causes light to refract or bend, so straight things can look crooked. We have probably all seen reflections on water surfaces, but have you ever seen something disappear when it goes into water, but appear again as soon as it is back in the air?.

Equipment

  • Plastic bag (Zip-loc is easiest but others are fine)

  • Blank paper or a picture to cut out that will fit in the bag

  • Sticky tape if you don’t have a Zip-loc bag

  • Coloured pencils or textas

  • Permanent marker or Sharpie

  • Water in a clear container

  • Towel to dry any spills

Procedure

  1. Draw a picture on your paper and colour it in.

  2. Put your picture into the bag, squeeze the air out and seal it. If you don’t have a zip-loc bag, fold over the top twice and seal it with sticky tape.

  3. Use the Sharpie to trace part of your picture on the outside of the bag - for example the outline or part of the design.

  4. Check the bag is still sealed and that you are holding the sealed end.

  5. Move to the water container. Slide your picture into the water so it is up against the side of the container and the top of the bag is just above the water.

  6. Try looking at the picture in two different ways:
    a) Looking sideways through the water.
    b) Looking straight down on the water with the picture as straight up as you can.

You should see your picture inside the bag vanish for one of these viewing angles, leaving only what you drew in marker on the outside. You may have to adjust the bag position and your viewing angle until it works for you.

When did you see the picture disappear? How can light and water change what we see?

Water makes the bag act like a mirror and bounces the light when you look at it from the correct angle - so you can only see what is drawn on the outside and the image inside the bag vanishes.

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