Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.
Students learn how sound, light, or other waves change frequency as the source moves closer or farther away from something. This is the Doppler Effect. In this lesson, you will have a variety of activities and games to help enhance your students' understanding of the Doppler Effect.
Please feel free to adjust these ideas to meet the needs of your students, match the content you are teaching, and for your own unique touch to a lesson.
Show Me the Doppler Effect
With this activity, students will work on a project that describes and shows how the Doppler Effect works.
Materials for each group
- Trifold posters or poster board
- Markers, crayons, colored pencils
- Access to technology (printing pictures, typing, or researching)
- Resource materials on the Doppler Effect
- A variety of other materials that will be determined from the group itself
- Each group may have to gather other materials (from school or home) for their display
- Students will work in groups of 3–4.
- Explain that each group will create a display to help teach their classmates about the Doppler Effect.
- Each display must include the following:
- Explanation of the Doppler Effect.
- Visual representation of the Doppler Effect.
- A hands-on activity to demonstrate the Doppler Effect. Example: A variety of instruments that create sound waves could be on or near the poster board (cymbals, flute, maracas, etc.). Students could see what these instruments sound like from near and far away. Then they could describe how the frequency of the sound waves changes.
- Allow students time to form groups and collaborate ideas. Then, students can begin working on their project.
- Groups may create their displays by hand, with technology, or a combination of both.
- When groups are finished, place each display around the classroom. Provide time for students to travel from display to display and learn more about the Doppler Effect.
The Doppler Effect and You
Students get to write about how the Doppler Effect relates to them.
- Resources on the Doppler Effect
- Use of technology if possible
- Computers with programs such as Microsoft Word
- Writing paper, if computers are not available
- Students will work independently.
- Invite students to talk among partners or small groups about their own experiences with the Doppler Effect. Examples: Sounds from an approaching fire engine, light coming from a city off in the distance, or fish splashing in a pond causing ripples in the water.
- Explain that students will write about their own experience with the Doppler Effect and describe how the Doppler Effect works.
- Students must include the following in their writing:
- At least one experience with the Doppler Effect.
- Description of how the Doppler Effect works for sound, light, and movement.
- Real life example of the Doppler Effect for sound, light, and movement. Could be student's own experience and/or general examples.
- A cover page with illustration/picture.
- Allow students time to pre-write and complete a rough draft. Students will edit and revise their rough draft with the help of a partner.
- Students can write/type their final copy when ready.
- Volunteers may share their writing with the class. Display all final copies on a bulletin board or in the hallway.
Catch That Wave
Students will test their knowledge of the Doppler Effect and sound as they play tag with a twist.
- Large play area (gymnasium or outdoor field)
- Up to 5 bells on a string
- At least 20 question cards about the Doppler Effect
- Possible questions/tasks: Describe what Doppler Effect is shown when a duck swims in a pond. What is the Doppler Effect? Give an example of the Doppler Effect and sound waves.
- Up to 5 students will be 'it' in this game of tag. They are the 'source'. The remaining students will be the 'waves'.
- The students who are the source must wear a bell around their wrists. They will also carry at least 4 question cards with them.
- Once a wave is tagged by the source, the wave must correctly answer one of the question cards to get away. The students who answer incorrectly get another question.
- Play will continue until allotted time is up.
- At the end of the game, discuss as a class the advantages and disadvantages of hearing the source as they try to tag you. The waves may have an extra advantage because they can hear the source coming!
- Optional: To switch roles, once a 'wave' answers a certain amount of questions correctly, they could become the 'source'.
Students will race against one another as they test their knowledge of the Doppler Effect.
Materials for each group
- 20 question cards about the Doppler Effect (may use the question cards from the game 'Catch That Wave')
- Answer sheet
- Students will work in teams of 5–6.
- Assign a leader or 'coach' for each team. The coach is responsible for asking the questions, determining if the answers are correct, and keeping score.
- Each team will line up one behind the other. All teams will spread out enough so that answers can't be overheard.
- When teams are ready, you will say 'go'. The coach on each team will ask the first question.
- If the student answers correctly, he/she must go to the end of the line and sit.
- If the student answers incorrectly, he/she must go to the end of the line and remain standing.
- Coaches will continue asking questions until all students on the team have answered one question correctly. The first team to have all students sitting wins!
- Have all students stand back up and continue play until allotted time is up. The 'coaches' can switch roles between rounds.
- The team with the most points at the end wins.
- Note: You can decide how you'd like to score the teams.
- Example one - The first team finished may get 1 point.
- Example two - You could also give points to the top three teams. The first team would get 3 points, the second team would get 2 points, and the third team would get 1 point.
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