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Learning Together: An Inquiry into How Sound is Created

March 2, 2013

P1020330My grade 1 class recently inquired into How the World Works.  We conducted and shared many experiments using the Scientific Method. You the ones: The Cup Phone, Ruler Rapping, Tuning Fork Splash. The real Classics. Our central idea was ‘People manipulate sounds to invent and create’. Our summative assessment was ‘to create a musical instrument that made different sounds’.

We worked with the Music teacher on this one to explore pitch, vibration, volume and such. Now, we have used this summative assessment in the past and it never really worked well. Sure, we integrated Shape, Space and Measurement and did some measuring and the children understood for the most part that the longer the tube the slower the vibration and the sound is different than a shorter tube. The problem was the instrument just never worked properly resulting in a less exciting and authentic experience for the children. So this year, I was determined to make it work. I think we integrate subject specialists pretty well at my school, but to really make this thing work I needed specialist help. More needed to be done. Our Music teacher was keen and kindly arranged his own scheduled to fit ours and came into Math lessons and Art lessons to help us design, create and assemble our instruments (which was a 5 piece panpipe AND a ‘boom stick’ both made from plastic pipe). The kids wanted to do both so why not right? We of course followed the Scientific Method. The instruments were a huge success.

P1020307So then all this time, had I asked the specialist to come in to the class these instruments would have worked properly? Simple answer: YES. Of course time and scheduling was on our side this year as last year this would have been trickier. Hindsight 20/20. Lesson learned. Looking back on my planner, I had flagged this as a possibility for the last 2 years. Why didn’t I act sooner? The children had a much richer and engaging experience, connected directly with the central idea, lines of inquiry and the concepts and had fun doing it. Their hard work paid off and they made something they were proud of and more importantly (to them) actually WORKED!

We decided we wanted to showcase our knowledge from all of the experiments and of course our WORKING instruments. The Music teacher took this one step further and had the kids play popular tunes and create their own tunes to play for the school wide audience at the Grade 1 Mini Science Fair on the basketball court. Yes, a school wide audience. The kids planned it all right down to where they placed the tables. We had parents, teachers, administrative staff, and students ranging from EC1 to Grade 11. It was just an hour (reflecting back P1020378now probably too long for 6 year old to be ‘on’) showing experiments and answering questions. We finished off with not one but 2 performances using our instruments. To capture the wonderings our guests might have had, the class decided to set up a white board. St the end of the hour it was full of ‘fat and ‘skinny’ questions (as the grade 1 call them).

More to investigate, learn and Inquire Into.

We are now working within a different Transdisciplinary Theme, however we are still coming up with answers and more questions to our discoveries to How the World Works.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2013 5:51 pm

    Great example of true collaboration. Will share this when I meet with single subject teachers on Monday .

  2. April 30, 2013 7:17 pm

    One of my all-time favorite posts, thanks! This reminds me of the music lessons I did last year during our school’s Science Week. Here’s a cool video that would support that inquiry:

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