Sound Waves Stations NGSS MS-PS4-1: Close Reading


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These stations will captivate kids and make sound come alive! You will get “ooohs” and “ahhhs” as the students wonder in amazement at the power of sound waves! And! This resource is phenomena driven!!! A very important part of NGSS is doing activities that are phenomena driven or discrepant events. The students do the activities with very little prior knowledge, this causes the students to want to know the answers and it fosters the metacognitive process. I tell them it’s ok they don’t know the answers and that we will read about what the science is behind the phenomena they observe afterwards. This is where the close reading comes in for this resource. The activity takes about two 1 hour 55 minute block periods. I include very detailed teacher notes so you can work out the kinks before you even begin!

Waves Station One:

-Students strike a tuning fork and write down their observations. Students then draw what the sound wave would look like going from the tuning fork to their ear. This first station sets up for the more exciting ones later.

Waves Station Two:

-The station should have two forks of different frequencies (the bigger the difference the better) and a bowl of water. They strike the lower amplitude fork with the hammer, place it in the water and write down their observations. It makes a small splash, but when they place the higher amplitude fork in the water it makes a big splash and the kids are astonished! Filming on slo-mo is pretty neat too! Students will create an NGSS model of the higher amplitude tuning fork splashing the water. The model will include Frequency, Energy, Amplitude, Rarefaction, Compressions & Medium. See example of a model in product preview.

Waves Station Three:

-Students strike a fork, place it in the sand and write down their observations in the data table. Students do the same with the rice and the rice flies everywhere and again they are surprised! The purpose of this station is to demonstrate the effect of sound waves on different mediums.

Waves Station Four:

-Station four has two forks of different frequencies and cling wrap covering the lid of the container. On the cling wrap is a small pile of pepper. Students strike the lower amplitude fork with the hammer and wave it over the pepper. The pepper moves a little, however, the higher amplitude fork makes the pepper move, vibrate and dance like magic! Again, the kids are mesmerized by the power of sound!

Waves Station Five:

In this station, students use the app called “Sonic Tools” (click here) on their phones and three different tuning forks. The app has an Oscilloscope that measures frequency and amplitude in the form of a beautiful graph on their phones! When they get a clean line, they can tap the screen and it freezes it for them, allowing them to draw it.

Waves Stations Six and Seven:

-Students watch two engaging video clips and answer questions.

Waves Station 8:

-Students read an interesting article about the danger of Ultrasonic Sound Waves and fill in a Claim Evidence Reasoning Graphic Orgaizer.

Waves Sound Stations Materials:

Station 1– One tuning fork, a rubber hammer or students can use their knee.

Station 2– Two tuning forks with different frequencies, a rubber hammer or students can use their knee and a container with water.

Station 3– One tuning fork, a rubber hammer or students can use their knee and two containers with two different materials that vary in density. I use sand and rice.

Station 4– Two tuning forks with different frequencies, a rubber hammer or students can use their knee and a container (I use a glass beaker) that you can tightly wrap cling wrap around the top.

Station 5– A phone or device that can download the free app “Sonic Tools” (click here) and three different tuning forks.

Stations 6 & 7– A laptop or device for each student and head phones.

Station 8– Students read an article about ultrasonic sound waves and fill in a claim evidence reasoning graphic organizer.

This product Includes the following:

-Student Handout

-Answer keys

-Student directions for each station

-Detailed teacher notes to work out the kinks

-Close reading/supplemental reading

-Claim Evidence Reasoning Graphic Organizer

-Ultrasonic Sound Waves Article

Includes the following concepts:



Longitudinal waves

Speed of sound






Includes the Following NGSS Standards:

Performance Expectation MS-PS4-1:  Wave Properties Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave. 

Disciplinary Core Idea PS4.A:  Wave Properties

A simple wave has a repeating pattern with a specific wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. (MS-PS4-1)

A sound wave needs a medium through which it is transmitted.  (MS-PS4-2)

Crosscutting Concepts:

-Energy and Matter


-Cause and Effect

Science and Engineering Practices:

-Analyzing and Interpreting Data

-Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

-Developing and Using Models

-Use mathematical representations

-Carrying Out Investigations


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