Music / Science KS2: What is sound?

In their House of Sound, Fran Scott and Greg Foot investigate how sound is made and how we hear it.

They explain that sound is caused by vibration. If an object vibrates the air particles called molecules close to it vibrate.

This makes the molecules next to them vibrate and so on, forming a sound wave.

If the sound wave reaches our ears and our brains then we hear the sound.

They also explain that sound needs something called a medium to travel through and Fran repeats a famous experiment by a scientist called Robert Boyle who demonstrated that air is a medium through which sounds travel.

She puts a bell in a jar, taking out all the air from the jar to create a vacuum, after which the bell falls silent.

Using 3D animation, Greg takes us on a guided tour of the human ear, pointing out the key components: the eardrum, hammer, anvil, stirrup, cochlea and auditory nerve.

Finally, Fran makes a giant human ear out of everyday things to show how these components work.

This clip is from the series House of Sound.

Teacher Notes

Pupils can experiment with making sounds using just their own bodies and voices.

Because sound needs a medium to travel through, they can discuss the media with which they are familiar - for example, water, a highly effective medium, as they may have discovered while swimming.

As an introduction to pitch, experiment with rulers on the edge of desks or tables, so they can find out and record that a long length of ruler vibrates more slowly than a short length and makes a lower sound.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Science or Music in primary schools at Key Stage Two or Second Level (Scotland).

More from the series House of Sound

Music / Science KS2: How drums make sound
Music / Science KS2: How woodwind instruments make sound
Music / Science KS2: How string instruments make sound
Music / Science KS2: How brass instruments make sound