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Some of the following lessons are in the BETA phase, meaning they have been used in middle and high school classrooms, but have not gone through a second round of use and are not in ASA lesson format. These are traditionally done in high school, but are at an appropriate level for middle school students.


High School Anatomy of a Wave

This is a more advanced version of the “Anatomy of a Wave” presentation. It investigates waves, follows up on the “Wave Basics” assignment, introduces the equations for the relationship between wave speed, frequency and wavelength, and introduces wave interference and resonance.


Investigating How Music is Made

Students make their own straw instruments and cup instruments to investigate how music is made. They also blow over the top of bottles and investigate an acoustic and electric guitar. This can be used with “Generalizing How Musical Instruments Work” in class as a necessary follow up to this lab.


Traveling and Standing Waves

This lab is designed for high school or introductory college classes. The PhET simulation “Wave on a String” is used to have students carefully study and graph traveling waves. Standing waves are studied experimentally with vibrators and a string.


Speed of Sound Questions

Clicker questions to use as follow-up to the Traveling & Standing Waves lab.


The Doppler Effect

Students explore the PhET Interactive simulation “Sound” and then experience the Doppler effect through watching videos and teacher demonstrations. Then students invent an explanation of why the Doppler effect happens.


Intensity and Intensity Level

Students use sound level meters to investigate how sound level drops off with distance.


Waves and Harmonics

This lab uses the “Fourier: Making Waves” PhET simulation to investigate auditory perception of various combinations of harmonics as well as how waves add.


Spring to Another World

This lab is by Hewitt and Baird’s Conceptual Physics Laboratory Manual. It uses the PhET simulation Masses and Springs to investigate Hooke’s Law. This can be used with the “Simple Harmonic Motion” BETA lesson one lab period.


Simple Harmonic Motion

Students investigate a spring, a pendulum and pasta w/raisins or marshmallows to determine if the period depends on length, amplitude and mass for each oscillator. This can be used as the second half after the “Spring to Another World” lesson.



This presentation includes more than an hour of slides which have a section on speech intelligibility and acoustician careers. It can follow up the “Waves and Harmonics” lab or the “Sound Rather than Sight” lesson.


Elephant Acoustics

This assignment consists of a series of conceptual questions about a website article on elephant acoustics encouraging the students to connect what they’ve learned about the physics of sound with how elephants hear and make sound.


Sound Lab Unit

Sound Waves LabStudents use the “Sound” simulation from the PhET Interactive Simulations to understand how different sounds are modeled, described and produced. They also design ways to determine the speed, frequency, period and wavelength of a sounds

Sound Lab using Oscilloscope: Students use a virtual oscilloscope to investigate how wave patterns from different sound sources look. They also determine the speed, frequency, period and wavelength of a sounds

Concept Questions for Sound: Concept questions related to the “Sound Waves” and “Sound Lab” lessons.