Sound: 5E Lesson Plan

Learn about sound—the waves it travels in, and how the human body creates and hears it—with this blended lesson.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

NC Essential Standards

6.P.1: Understand the properties of waves and the wavelike property of energy in earthquakes, light and sound.

6.P.1.3 Explain the relationship among the rate of vibration, the medium through which vibrations travel, sound and hearing.

New Generation Science Standards

MS-PS4.A Wave Properties • A simple wave has a repeating pattern with a specific wavelength, frequency and amplitude • A sound wave needs a medium through which it is transmitted.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this lesson, students will be able to describe how the medium and rate of vibration affect sound waves, as well as how the human body makes and hears sound.
• Opportunities for integrating technology are given throughout the lesson.
• The entire lesson will take 6-8 class periods to complete


Make straw oboes and experiment with straw size and length. Then have students watch How Pipe Organs Make Sound with a Student Viewing Guide. Discuss how the straw oboes are similar to the pipes in an organ. Teacher Notes


These three investigations allow students to explore how sound travels through different materials including their own bones. Student Handout and Teacher Notes

Hanger Gongs - Students will listen to a hanger tapping on the table as the sound travels through air and through a solid string to compare the sounds and hypothesize why they are different.

Balloon Amplifier – Students will explore the amplifying properties of a balloon filled with different gases and a liquid.

Head Harp - Students will explore how sounds travel through the bones in their head along with the affect of tension on the pitch of the sound of a vibrating string. After the activities the students will share their results and discuss any discrepancies in their answers.

After the activities the students will share their results and discuss any discrepancies in their answers. 



Digital Interactive Lesson

Allow one or more class periods for students to complete the Sound Waves Interactive Lesson on PBS Learning Media.

For details on how to use the lesson in the classroom, choose Support Materials and Teaching Tips from the lesson home page.

Revisit Explore Investigations

Now that the students have some vocabulary to describe waves, revisit the previous investigations. Bring back the questions discussed after the explorations – both those provided and those generated by students. Do they want to change their answers based on what they’ve learned?

Explore More

Now that students have some understanding of sound and how it travels through different mediums, students will continue to explore how the human body makes and hears sounds. Teacher Notes and Student Handout

Vocal Chords
Students will build a model of vocal chords that demonstrates how they work. They will investigate how to make different pitches and volumes of sound. Video: Vocal Cords by Operation Ouch 

Model Eardrums
Students will create a model of the eardrum to see how sound causes vibrations in the ear. They will investigate the effect of different pitches and volumes of sound on the eardrum.
Video: How the Human Ear Works by the World Science Festival 



Show the video Acoustic Architecture, which shows how the cathedral in Raleigh is designed for sound. Students will apply what they learn in the video to noisy places in their school like the cafeteria and gym.

To extend understanding of sound waves and how they travel through different mediums students will design spaces or objects to amplify or reduce sound. They will then engineer a device that makes sound louder, such as acoustic speakers for a cell phone, or makes sound quieter like a soundproof phone box or noise cancelling headphones.

Teacher Notes and Student Handout.


Allow students two choose either the hanger gong or straw oboe activity (or any other activity of your choice that involves hearing sound with your ears) to complete the evaluation. They must write a story, essay, poem or timeline explaining how the straw or hanger creates the sound and follow the sound waves as they travel through the air or string and to their ears. The following items must be included:

• What causes the sound?
• What medium does the sound move through and how does it move?
• How do the sound waves affect the medium and how does the medium affect the sound waves?
• What happens when the sound waves reach your ear?
• How do the sound waves move through the ear so that your brain receives the sound signal?