How Does Sound Travel? - Lesson for Kids

How Does Sound Travel? - Lesson for Kids
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  • 0:03 The Amazing Abilities of Sound
  • 1:07 Movement of Sound
  • 2:07 Solids
  • 2:50 Air
  • 3:22 Liquids
  • 3:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Emily Lockhart

Emily has taught science and has a master's degree in education.

Learn the secret to how sound can travel. Examine details of sound and how different objects create different sounds. Discover how sound can travel through water, air, or solids.

The Amazing Abilities of Sound

Imagine that you're holding a rubber band tightly between your fingers. What if someone were to pluck the rubber band? You would feel the vibrations of the rubber band on your hand at the same time the twang sound was made. Just like when you're standing next to a big speaker, the vibrations of sound can be felt. They can even move things!

So what is sound? Well, if you haven't guessed already, it's vibration. Sound vibrations travel in a wave pattern, and we call these vibrations sound waves. Sound waves move by vibrating objects and these objects vibrate other surrounding objects, carrying the sound along. The further away from the original source of a sound you are, the waves lessen until they don't have the strength to vibrate any other particles. It's like when you throw a stone into a pond and it makes ripples that make more ripples until it slowly dies out.

Sound can move through the air, water, or solids, as long as there are particles to bounce off of. However, if there are not particles to bounce off of, it can't move. There is no sound in the vacuum of space, because there is nothing to vibrate the sound.

Movement of Sound

Now that we know that sound waves can travel through air, water, and solids, let's look at how. Remember that rubber band? When you pluck the rubber band you can hear a sound, twang! That sound travels through the air from the rubber band to your ear. How? It seems strange but the air we breathe is full of gas molecules like oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Molecules are the small repeating unit that makes up an object, and can't be divided further. The rubber band vibrates back and forth really quickly. As the rubber band vibrates back and forth, it bounces into the molecules in the air that are next to the rubber band, which bounce into the air molecules next to them, which bounce into the molecules next to them, and so on. This is what we call a sound wave. When molecules in the air bounce against your ear drum with enough energy, we call that hearing!

The wave will lessen as it passes through the air. That's why sound from your headphones is a lot louder when the headphones are in your ear.

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