Properties of waves can be a tough unit for students, but with the help of a PBL, you can make it digestible! This sound waves PBL makes learning about sound waves fun, hands-on, and meaningful. Plus, it goes beyond your typical experiment for sound waves. I’ve found using project-based activities increased student retention of the material. Win-win!
Why Use a PBL for Sound Waves?
Project Based Learning (or PBL) is a teaching method that provides students the opportunity to connect their educational content to real-life problems. Making this connection is key to comprehension because students are able to see that what they’re learning in school actually matters in the real world.
Because of this, PBL is the perfect way to get the most out of a unit and extend your experiment for sound waves. This project makes learning about sound waves hands-on and accessible, and offers the opportunity for students to collaborate, work on their communication skills, and manage their time well. PBLs also encourage creativity, and students love that aspect.
PBL for Sound Waves
For this PBL, students will be creating their own musical instruments. They can base this instrument on something that already exists or get creative and design a brand-new instrument. Here’s how I organize this experiment for sound waves –
- Start with research. To begin, have students research sound waves and transfer energy to inform their decisions when they plan the instruments. Have students jot down ideas on how different instruments work in their PBL notebooks.
- Choose materials and create a prototype. After research, students choose the materials they want to use to create their instrument. Students will have to think about how sound and sound waves will be affected by the materials they choose. Then, they will create a prototype of the instrument using recyclable materials.
- Create a song. After their prototype is built, students will select a few classmates to create a band with! They will use their various instruments to write and create a song.
- Record a music video. Lastly, students will create a music video! What great band doesn’t have an epic music video to go with their own song? You can even have students perform at an assembly for some added fun.
The focus of this experiment for sound waves is on the construction of the instrument and understanding how the sound waves travel. Therefore, I only give them a few days to work on the song and video.
My students love this PBL and really get to show off creativity while they delve into sound waves.
Want to bring this Sound Waves PBL to your classroom? Check out the Sound Waves PBL resource. This experiment on sound waves helps students apply their knowledge of how sound waves work, transfer energy, and how sound waves vibrate through different types of media.
This PBL has everything you need to pull off this engaging activity, including pages for students to record research on sound waves, handouts to plan their instrument and music video, and even a reflection sheet to reflect on their design process.