Melissa Rooney Blogging

Melissa Rooney Blogging

"There is more to life than increasing its speed." – Mahatma Gandhi

Teaching Physics to First and Second Graders: Sound waves

This post is particularly applicable to teachers, parents, and caretakers of second-grade children, as the links below address science standards required for 2nd-grade (

We must delve deeper with our vocabulary when discussing scientific subjects with children, particularly public-school students from lower-income families, who have few extracurricular educational opportunities. No matter their backgrounds or how old they are, kids love learning new words, especially cool words like “magnetosphere”. They are also – all of them- smarter than we think. Their fresh brains are incredibly absorptive and primed to think about things in new ways; but we, as a society, fail to capitalize on this important early stage of their development.

The first of NC’s second-grade science standards are as follows:

  • NCES.2.P.1 Understand the relationship between sound and vibrating objects.

    • NCES.2.P.1.1 Illustrate how sound is produced by vibrating objects and columns of air.

    • NCES.2.P.1.2 Summarize the relationship between sound and objects of the body that vibrate – eardrum and vocal cords.

To support this curricula, I conducted a Didgeridoo and the Science of Sound workshop with 1st- and 2nd-grade students at EK Powe Elementary School last week. Here are some of the highlights: MelissaBRooney_SoundWaves

It really is amazing, and surprisingly intuitive, how sound waves travel through air the same way currents travel through the ocean. Here’s a link to a great write-up in this regard, including simulations of air particles as sound waves travel through them:

*If you want to delve deeper, you can view simulations (and explanations) of standing waves here:…/D…/StandingWaves/StandingWaves.html

I hope at least one of these links motivates you to examine and share the magic that is Sound when you teach it to your children or students. It’s more important than ever that we engage them with scientific concepts and terminology early in their development. Thanks for your help!

Sound Workshop, MB Rooney, EK Powe Elementary School


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