Lesson Plan

Visualizing Sound

A #STEMchallenge activity geared towards having students use sight and touch to understand how sound travels
Aletha C.
Technology coordinator
Beecher Hills Elementary School
Atlanta, United States
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies

Students will observe sound created patterns and form hypotheses about the formation of these patterns by building chlandi plates and sampling sounds while watching salt move on the plate.

Grades 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook/Attention Getter

Note: This lesson should come after a pre-assessment and a basic introduction of the words pitchvolume, and vibration

The teacher should emphasize there are special effects in the video, but the materials they are to focus on have no special effects.

Student Instructions

Students will watch “Cymatics” by Nigel Stafford. Concentrate on the salt, water, and fire. How did they react to sound? Students will discuss. Write how you think this worked. 

2 Independent Practice

Refer to the pages 2 and 3 of the given document for question prompts, bullet points, and checks for understanding.


Student Instructions

Students will create chladni plates using a wide mouth pvc pipe with a secondary pipe, an additional pvc pipe, heavy duty tape, salt, and a balloon. Students will make different sounds by blowing into the long pipe.

Sound Could will be used to record sounds and to draw pictures of the patterns made by the salt. 

3 Direct Instruction

Activity: Drawing

The teacher will draw a diagram showing wave length frequencies of high pitched sounds and low pitched sounds.  The teacher will guide a conversation to help students draw conclusions about patterns. 

The salt has traveled to the places where sound waves are not touching. Think about how many waves there are when we hear a high pitch; compare that to how many waves there are when we hear a low pitch. 

4 Guided Practice

Free, Paid

As students make observations about the vibrations felt on the speakers during different parts of music clips, the teacher will write and complete a chart on the board that will help classify pitch and volume.

Suggested songs are "Chimes" by Hudson Mohawke. Sound frequencies change at :42. "A THX sound system test" by DjMaxB has a little over 6 minutes of music clips that change in both pitch and volume. 

Student Instructions

Students will touch the speakers of songs selected with various pitches and sounds. 

5 Direct Instruction

Activity: Exploring

This chart shows us what we have observed from samples of low volume and high volume, and of low pitch and high pitch. Let's explore our chlandi plate experiment again to see if our observations match what I have written on the chart. 

Student Instructions

This is an opportunity for students to explore the investigation again, with a teacher guided focus of how softer, higher pitches sounds are weaker than those with louder, lower pitches.

6 Wrap-Up

Activity: Assessing

Students will present their results after the second investigation. The teacher will guide the class to create two solid statements about sound, based on the exploration.

SoundNote should be used again, so students may adjust their primary statements.