Visitors could test their sensory skills with the ‘Soundbite’ experiment and ‘Paper Gramophone’ activity on the Dean Close stand in the Discover Zone of this Year’s Science Festival. Covering all areas of science, Physics (Soundwaves), Biology (How the ear works) and Chemistry (Periodic Table bookmarks) the Dean Close team shared their knowledge about the science of sound and the elements that make up our extraordinary planet.
By placing a straw over the end of a metal rod, which was attached to a speaker, which was, in turn plugged into a MP3 player, visitors could experience hearing music through their jaw bone. Soundwaves can travel through solids, liquids and gases. By vibrating the jaw bone the team could demonstrate that sound waves can travel just as effectively through solids to the cochlear in the inner ear, which triggers the auditory nerve as ordinary sound waves travel to the ear through the air.
“Wow, that’s amazing! Incredible, weird!” Were just some of the visitors’ responses as they tried this unusual experiment. No music can be heard at all until the user bites the straw, then the song can be heard just as clearly as if the sound waves were transmitted through the air to the ear.
Other activities on the stand were the demonstration of amplifying sound from an old fashioned record player using a paper gramophone. The paper gramophone acts as a speaker, converting vibrations created by the grooves in the record to sound waves via the increased surface area of the gramophone. Once again, visitors were amazed by the clarity of the music once the gramophone was put in place.
Finally, pupils and parents could make their own Periodic Table bookmarks. Choosing letters from the Periodic Table, they could personalise bookmarks or make one for a friend or family member. Whilst doing so visitors learnt fabulous facts such as the number of elements now discovered, why they are grouped the way they are and which element is the rarest on earth.
Throughout the week the stand proved incredibly popular as pupils, teachers and parents visited from far and wide. The Dean Close stand was also featured on the ITV News, West Country. Science Teacher, Crystal Lewis spoke to the reporter explaining, “Our future is in the hands of the next generation so these kinds of events are essential for engaging them. We hope the children and parents who have visited our stand know a little bit more about the science of sound and the purpose of the periodic table and will be inspired to find out more.”