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Sound Waves Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

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Instructor: Tiffany Hightower

Tiffany is a certified elementary school teacher. She has a B.A. in English, education certification and a master's degree in education from Central Michigan University.

Explore the fascinating world of sound waves to discover what it is people really hear. Investigate how sound waves move through matter and how different vibration speeds create different sounds. Finally, learn why sound waves are important. Updated: 12/27/2021

What Are Sound Waves?

Most children enjoy throwing a ball back and forth to play catch. Sound waves are similar to a ball because they also travel back and forth. Sound waves are vibrating energy that look like waves. The waves are made of microscopic building blocks called molecules.

Sound waves travel back and forth through solids, liquids and gases to get to another location. That's how you can hear sounds that are close to you, happening outside or underwater. You may have even felt the vibrating energy from sound waves while standing close to a large marching band at a parade or at a football game. The instruments create sound vibrations that are so strong that you can feel the vibrations in your chest!

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  • 0:04 What Are Sound Waves?
  • 0:43 Why Are Sound Waves Important?
  • 1:29 How Sound & Hearing Works
  • 2:32 Lesson Summary
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Why Are Sound Waves Important?

Sound waves are used in a variety of important ways by animals and humans. Animals, such as bats, can use echolocation and sound wave vibrations to locate objects in their paths. Humans use sound waves to share important ideas and feelings. Sound waves allow you to hear funny jokes, but they can help protect you from danger, too.

For instance, ambulance sirens and fire alarms alert you to move to protect yourself. Doctors use ultrasounds to see inside of the body with sound waves. These sound waves show the health and shape of parts in your body, which helps doctors to make good medical decisions. Dentists also use powerful sound waves to clean your teeth with their special cleaners; the sound waves' vibrations are powerful enough to remove yucky plaque and grime from teeth.

How Sound and Hearing Works

You have probably heard of your eardrum and know that it helps you to hear. Your ear also has other parts that work together for you to hear sound waves. These parts are the eardrum, cochlea, hammer, anvil and stirrup. Sound waves are vibrations. When the vibrations enter your ear, all of these parts work together to send a signal to your brain to hear a sound.

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