Sound Experiment – Can you trick your brain?

Phew!! it’s so difficult to find time to blog at this time of year but this one was too good to miss. We are working on Sound at the moment in Science and we have been learning how different sounds are made and how sound gets fainter over distance. This experiment was an enrichment activity that I knew my Year 1 class were going to love. We started by standing in a circle with one person blindfolded in the middle. As I touched someone on the shoulder they would say hello and the child in the middle as to point to where the sound came from.

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This was the easy part but still lots of fun. The Science goes like this – Sound hits each ear a little differently. A sound on the right goes directly into the right ear, but it must travel around the head to reach the left ear. The left ear receives that sound an instant later than the right, and the sound in the left ear is a bit softer.Ever since the day we were born, our brains have been learning to use these small differences to locate the sounds we hear.┬áBut if you reversed the order of the sounds coming into your ears, would your brain know where the sound was coming from?

We made these ‘mirror ears’, shown in the photograph below, using flexible hose, 2 funnels and some tape. When you hold the ends of the tubes in your ears as shown, they make the sounds from each side go into the opposite ear.

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Then we tried playing the game again, a whole afternoon of fun and giggles. The children loved the fact that when someone made a sound it seemed as though they were on the opposite side and, of course, all good scientists write up their experiments afterwards.

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