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Acoustics research centre

More sounds amazing

Filmstrip - low resolution images of glass being smashed

Many young people relate strongly to music. This project has harnessed this interest to aid their understanding of and interest in A/AS level Physics, by linking music and its production with underlying physical principles, in the waves and vibrations section of the syllabus. In conjunction with teacher partners, we have developed state-of-the-art learning resources using our acoustics expertise and facilities, that can be used either in the classroom or by students as self-study or revision aids. The material includes high-quality animations in a textual framework, and a large number of innovative slow-motion videos of acoustic phenomena which were facilitated by the loan of a high-speed camera from the EPSRC Engineering Instrument Pool, and working in collaboration with Martin Davies, a Leverhulme Artist in Resident at the Acoustics Research Centre. The material is delivered via our Science Resources for Schools and Colleges website and by the production and free distribution of 2000 DVD packs.

Feedback suggests that many students find that explanations and demonstrations illustrated via sound waves are often more intuitive and easily understood than those using light. The Institute of Physics cites the lack of perceived relevance of physics to our every-day lives as one reason why pupils fail to study physics at A-level ; by linking material to music, and other areas of interest such as mobile telephony, we have aimed to counter this perception in this project. The current project is an extension of a previous piece of PPA work - ‘Sounds Amazing’ – which developed resources for the GCSE science syllabus.

Teacher feedback

“You have designed and developed a fantastic website resource for wave motion and sound that surpasses, by far, any other available on the www.”

Head of Department: Science, Australian school

“Whip crack, shattering glass, trumpeter’s lips, cymbal vibrations…they’re not easily seen in real time and are quite fascinating to watch in slow motion! Also, I don’t know (and I’ve looked!) of any other videos/DVDs with these sort of demos on. All the demos are very relevant to AS and A2 Physics.”.

Head of Physics, 6th form college, UK

Many teachers felt the materials would work well as ‘attention grabbing’ lesson starters, and welcomed the availability of the hi-res web/DVD video for classroom use which had resulted from formative feedback received during schools trailing of materials.

Student feedback

Student feedback has been likewise positive:

“Hey , I am writing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, student of engineering at PUC university just to tell that your SHM lesson site is really great! One of the best ones available. Keep up the good work!”

Representing students from the target UK audience:

“Fantastic site for A level, we need the whole A level course doing to this standard - awesome.”
Age: > 18 Male
“The diagrams are useful in making the site more interesting as pages of text would be too much to take!”
“Visualisation of theories is useful however more use of maths would be valuable as it will be core to further understanding.”

The material can be download from our Schools section.

EPSRC Promoting Public Awareness (PPE) project, £20k