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Stop, Listen and Feel the (SOUND) Vibrations

March 24, 2023

by Imagination Station's Experience Team

Do you hear that? There’s music in the air! It’s your favorite song on the radio, the birds chirping outside of your bedroom window, even the sound of conversations at your local coffee shop. Sound is everywhere and loaded with really cool science.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is sound?

Sound is a vibration, or wave, that travels through matter and can be heard. When an object vibrates, it causes the surrounding air particles to vibrate as well, creating pressure waves. These waves reach our ears, our eardrums vibrate and our brains perceive this as sound. Think for a moment about all of the sounds you hear in a day. Each is likely very different because sound waves come in different sizes - quite literally - and can sound different depending on the environment.

The loudness of a sound is all about the size, or height, of the wave. Big sound waves make louder sounds because they push harder against our eardrums. For example, rustling leaves have smaller sound waves compared to a jet-engine during a rocket launch.

What about the number, or frequency of sound waves? High-frequency tones - which vibrate quickly - are perceived as being of high pitch (a squeak, whistle or child’s voice), while low-frequency tones - which vibrate slowly - are said to be of low pitch (a bass drum, thunder or a man’s voice).

Sound comes in many different forms - one of the most enjoyable is music. Music provides a soundtrack to our lives: it can set any mood, trigger a memory or inspire us to move, sing and dance. Music is fast, it’s slow, it tells a story, sometimes without ever saying a word.

It may surprise you to hear that something as artistic and expressive as music has a firm grounding in scientific concepts - spoiler alert, it does! You can explore more as Imagination Station joins schools across the nation to celebrate Music in Our Schools Month. You and your family can uncover the sweet sounds of science in a number of ways:

  • Catch a Sounds of Science show on the Extreme Science Stage.
  • Join our Extreme Scientists and experience science in action through different visual demonstrations for kids and families.
  • Make your own music in Tinkering Space (located in IDEA Lab) with pegs, pinwheels, circuits and more.
  • Experience beautiful music in person during special recitals from the Toledo Symphony throughout the month of March.

The science of sound reminds us to stop, listen and feel the vibration.