Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
After this lesson, students will be able to:
- define Doppler Effect
- describe how the Doppler Effect occurs in the natural world
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
- Video clip of an emergency vehicle passing by an observer (there are several of these readily available online).
Each lab group (or individual student) will need:
- 3 meters of string
- Tennis ball
- Batteries that fit the buzzer
- 4 rubber bands
Teacher Tip: If you conduct this lab activity with your most trustworthy group first, all of your other groups can use the pre-constructed apparatus instead of having to build it themselves.
NOTE: An alternative activity is provided at the end of this lesson plan in case you cannot obtain these materials.
- To start the lesson, show a video clip of an emergency vehicle passing by an observer. Or, you can simply have a student describe the experience of having an emergency vehicle (or a train) drive past them. What does it sound like?
- Begin the video lesson The Doppler Effect: Definition, Examples & Applications. Pause the video at 1:07 to discuss the following questions:
- What is the Doppler Effect?
- How do we perceive the Doppler Effect in the real world?
- Is the Doppler Effect just a phenomenon of sound waves?
- Resume the video. Pause it again at 3:45. Discuss the following questions:
- What is frequency? How is frequency important to us?
- What is actual frequency as compared to apparent frequency?
- How are these terms related to the Doppler Effect?
- Resume the video. Pause it again at 6:22. Discuss the following:
- How does the Doppler Effect happen in sound waves? Why is this important to us?
- What is a shock wave? When might one happen?
- What is a sonic boom? When might one happen?
- What does the term 'supersonic' mean? What objects might be supersonic?
- Resume and finish the video. Discuss:
- What can the Doppler Effect tell us about the universe?
- What is red shift? Blue shift?
- Why is it important for us to study red and blue shift? What do we learn from them?
Doppler Effect Lab Activity
- This lab activity can be completed collaboratively with a lab group. If working with an individual student, you can serve as their partner to complete lab tasks.
- Now that students have an understanding of the Doppler Effect, they will conduct a hands-on lab experiment to experience it firsthand.
- Distribute the lab activity Doppler Effect Lab. It will probably be helpful to read through the lab activity together before allowing students to follow the step-by-step instructions.
- Be sure to remind students of safety guidelines. In particular, be sure students are being safe with the knives, and that they are swinging their apparatus away from anything it can hit.
- When students have completed the lab activity, discuss the following questions:
- What patterns did you notice as you were collecting data in this lab?
- What interesting phenomena did you observe?
- What can this apparatus tell us about the Doppler Effect?
- As a wrap up, students can complete the associated quiz.
- If you cannot obtain the materials needed for the lab activity, you can have your students observe the Doppler Effect in a different way.
- Take your students outside to an area that is safe, but close to a road that has cars drive past it. As they listen to the cars and trucks zoom by, discuss the following questions:
- How do the cars sounds as they travel toward you? Away from you?
- How is this related to the Doppler Effect?
- What is happening to the sound waves here?
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