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Explorations in Physics
Development of a Nonscience Students’ Course
on Sound and Music
Explorations in Physics

Collaborative Effort
–
–
–
–

David Jackson, Dickinson College
Priscilla Laws, Dickinson College
Scott Franklin, Rochester Institute of Technology
Kerry Browne, Dickinson College
Funding
– Dana Foundation
– National Science Foundation
– FIPSE
FIPSE
EiP Goals


Enhance non-science majors scientific literacy and
confidence in their ability to do science
Encourage appropriate attitudes about the process of
science
– Science is about making sense of the world
– Emphasize inquiry over authority as the primary means of
acquiring scientific knowledge
– Have positive experience – Learning about the world can be
fun

Learn to communicate scientific information
– Book/Web research
– Inquiry/Experiment
What Makes EiP Unique?

A set of stand-alone physics-oriented
interdisciplinary curricular units.

Each unit has a storyline that leads students
to develop an understanding of some real
world phenomena.

Each unit blends guided inquiry and projects
– ½ Guided Inquiry – 18 hours
– ½ Student Projects – 18 hours
EiP Units

Published by Wiley

Under Development
– Motion, Forces, & Scientific
Theories
– Energy, Fuels, &
Environment
– Light, Sight, & Rainbows
– Sound, Vibrations, &
Music
– Heat, Temperature, &
Cloud Formation
– Buoyancy, Pressure, &
Flight
– Charge, Magnets, &
Electric Motors
– Atoms, Structures and
Snowflakes
Storyline

Guides students to learn concepts necessary
to understanding a particular real world
phenomena or answer a real world question.

Only includes concepts that are critical to
understanding the phenomena of interest.
Assume that when students begin the course,
they have only a basic preparation and no
specific scientific knowledge of the material.

Storyline: Sound, Vibrations & Music
Focusing Question:
What makes a note played by Jimmy Hendrix
on an electric guitar sound different from the
same note played by Zamfir on the pan flute?
What information do students
need to know in order to
understand and answer this
question?
Storyline: Sound, Vibrations & Music

Basics of Sound (production, transmission &
detection
–
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Vibrating things create sound (speaker, string, …)
Relate Vibration, Frequency and Pitch
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Count the number of oscillations of a speaker at very low
frequency
No discussion of wavelength
Storyline: Sound, Vibrations & Music

Time Graphs
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Connected to speaker/microphone diaphragm motion
Counting Oscillations
Storyline: Sound, Vibrations & Music

Frequency Graphs (FFT Graphs)
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Begin with pure tones (sine wave/ocarina)
Investigate F behavior with time graphs and counting
Explore effects of changing amplitude
Storyline: Sound, Vibrations & Music

Notes and Scales

Chords (multiple pure tones)

Harmonics
Storyline: Sound, Vibrations & Music

Analyze a single note from several instruments
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What frequencies are present?
What makes two instruments playing the same note sound
different?
Projects: Sound, Vibrations & Music

Helium and the Human Voice
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Singing in the Shower
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Measured the change in the FFT spectrum of the human
voice when helium was breathed
Measured the resonances of a dormitory shower.
Calculated the expected resonances of the shower.
Voice Passwords
–
–
Explored how the FFT spectra of human voices differed
when they said the same word.
Devised an algorithm for a simplified voice password
system.
EiP Information

Summer Workshop
– June 15-20, 2003
– Application Deadline: March 15,
2003
– Contact Gail Oliver at
[email protected]

EiP Activity Guide
– John Wiley & Sons
– http://jws-edcv.wiley.com/college
and search for Explorations in
Physics

Instructor Materials (Sept 1, 2002)
– http://physics.dickinson.edu/EiP

Contact info: Kerry Browne
– [email protected]
Storyline: Sound, Vibrations & Music

Complex Chords
–
Students applied other skills to analyze a chord of non-pure
notes