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Becky McCoy

Lesson Title: Sound Intro – Sonic Boom, Reflection, Timing: 60 minutes

& Diffraction

Target Audience:
11th and 12th grade Physics course

Students Will Be Able To:

The Teacher Will Be Able To:

Standards Assessed: New York State Standards, Physics

Performance Indicator 4.3: Students can explain variations in wavelength and frequency in terms of the
source of the vibrations that produce them, e.g., molecules, electrons, and nuclear particles.
4.3a An oscillating system produces waves. The nature of the system determines
the type of wave produced.
4.3b Waves carry energy and information without transferring mass. This energy
may be carried by pulses or periodic waves.
4.3c The model of a wave incorporates the characteristics of amplitude,
wavelength,* frequency*, period*, wave speed*, and phase.
4.3dMechanical waves require a material medium through which to travel.
4.3e Waves are categorized by the direction in which particles in a medium vibrate about an equilibrium
position relative to the direction of propagation of the wave, such as transverse and longitudinal
4.3f Resonance occurs when energy is transferred to a system at its natural frequency.

Misconception(s) Addressed:
• Pitch is related to intensity.
• Frequency is connected to loudness for all amplitudes.
• Waves transport matter.

Prior Knowledge: Waves Unit

Aim: Explore the different ways that sound waves interact with their surroundings.

Concept Map Vocabulary: n/a

Necessary Preparation:
Becky McCoy



Becky McCoy

Lesson Plan

Aim: Explore the different ways that sound waves interact with their surroundings.

Physics Push-Up: Practice Problem (5 minutes)

Have students try this problem written on the board or in a power point:

Mr. Shum is standing on a mountaintop and sees a bell struck on the next mountain. He hears the sound from
the gong 5 seconds later. How far apart are the mountains if the speed of sound in air is 343 m/s?

If Mrs. Shum then uses an electronic tuner to discover the pitch is “middle C” (frequency = 256 Hz), what is
the wavelength of the bell’s sound wave?

Activity: 30 – 35 minutes
• Computer and projector
• Sample tuning forks

Take 10 – 15 minutes for selected students to share their pendulum projects:
• A Band – Olivia, Cody, Alex B, and Ivy
• E Band – Yaniza, Hallie, Zoey G, James

Show the Wolfram Demonstration “Tuning Fork”. Point out how the vibration and energy from the tuning fork
transfers to vibration in the air as a LONGITUDINAL WAVE!

“Unlike light waves, sound waves must travel through a medium. Let’s watch a video to see how this works.”

“Do you think sound waves will travel faster in a more dense medium or in a less dense medium?”

Try this activity to discover the answer:

1. Ask students to repeat what kind of waves sound energy moves through. Longitudinal.
2. Have two volunteers be designated timers.
3. Have students form a straight line across the classroom. Students should be evenly spaced, about two
arms length apart. The line should wrap around the room if need be.
4. The student all the way at the end of the line should initiate a “vibration” and the other students should
pass it around. The timers should time the duration of the vibration around the room and record what
they found.
5. Then students should squeeze tightly together and repeat the process.
6. Put the times on the board.
7. Ask student which circumstance (more or less dense) allowed the wave to travel faster.
Becky McCoy

“It is important to note that sound travels slower than light. Where have you observed this?”
• Lightning and thunder (
• Sonic boom
• others?

Sound overview:

“We started talking about sonic boom last week. Let’s look at it again.”

Doppler Effect applet:

What happens when the sound source travels:

• slower than the speed of sound?
• at the speed of sound?
• faster than the speed of sound?

Sonic boom videos:

• The Right Stuff (start at 3:17 ish):
• Sonic Boom Airplane:
• Sonic Boom Atlantis:
• Sonic Boom Car:

Something else worth discussing is what happens when sound reflects. Ask students for guesses.
• Echo in Dome:
• Echo for Bats:
• Wolfram “Sonar” Demonstration:

“What about sound diffraction? How might sound waves diffract?” When you’re talking the sound goes through
the door and into the hallway/around the corner.

Activity Summary: 5 minutes

In your notes, circle or underline each of the topics we’ve discussed today: sound waves in a medium, wave
speed in different mediums, sound travels slower than light, sonic boom, echo/reflection, and diffraction.

Conference with your partner to make sure you have each category highlighted.

Book work on portal. Due tomorrow.
Becky McCoy

Exit Strategy: n/a

Extension Activity:



Notes & Adaptations: