Sounds of learning

Elementary children get a hands-on learning experience
Thursday, June 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:09 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The “I wonder…?” board in the back of the room is filled with questions about sound. Can it travel through water? Does it have a smell?

The answers were found by 28 Columbia students in third through fifth grade who are learning about the science of sound at a summer camp this week at MU.

The science camp is run by nine graduate students enrolled in Advanced Methods of Elementary Science Teaching, taught by Deborah Hanuscin. Planning and teaching the camp is part of the curriculum for the four-week class. Hanuscin assigned sound as the topic for camp after her class decided it would be tough to teach.

To learn about pitch, the children filled glass bottles with different amounts of water. They hit each bottle to listen to the pitch, discovering that the bottle with the least amount of water had the highest pitch. Then the students were instructed to blow across the tops of the bottles and found the opposite to be true: the one with the most water had the highest pitch.

Breaking into groups, some children created tunes on the bottles while others put together flutes made of drinking straws. After carefully cutting five straws to different lengths and taping them together in a row, they played their flutes like kazoos. At this camp, loud noises are accepted and encouraged.

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