Lesson One: Sound Energy

Listen up! In this Fly By, we dive into soundwaves and vibrations. What are soundwaves? How do they move through the air? Investigate these fast-moving waves with us in the museum. 




Objectives: Understanding soundwaves

  • Investigate how soundwaves move
  • Provide evidence about the relationship between sound waves and vibrations

Methodology: The recommended program includes:

  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum’s Fly-By, Sound Energy
  • Hands-on demonstration

Learning Questions: What are soundwaves? How do they move through the air?

Next Generation Science Standards:

  • 1-PS4-1: Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.


We know what sound is. It's anything and everything we hear. But what about sound waves? Well, we first need to understand that sound itself is vibration. When an object vibrates, it gives off energy, and that energy travels in waves through a medium (air, water, etc.). These are sound waves. Sound waves compress and relax as they transfer that energy between particles, and you experience the sound as the waves vibrate your ear drums and cause you to hear.


  • Two identical narrow-neck bottles, plastic or glass
  • Water

Time: 30 minutes


Empty and clean the bottles. Hold the bottle upright, touching your lower lip to the edge of the bottle. Purse your upper lip and blow across the top of the bottle to make a resonant sound, or something that sounds like a musical note.

  • How does the bottle sound?
  • Does the sound change if you fill one of the bottles half-way with water? Three-quarters of the way?
  • Is the note from the bottle with water higher or lower in pitch than the one without? How does changing the water levels change the sound?
  • Why do you think that is?

Questions to Answer in this week’s Fly-By:

  • What sound do you think the bottle will make when blown into?
  • Do you think the sound in the smaller bottle will be a higher or lower pitch?
  • What do you think will happen when the tissue is moved farther away from the speaker?


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