Hyrstmount Junior School

Mmmm…sounds fun!

Science Topic: Sound

Participants: Year 4

Artist: Fiona Goodwin

Cummins Buddy: Tiphaine Kent

Coming soon to a gallery near you…sounds on a budget but still things of beauty!  We’re designing a range of playful sound makers, some for display and hopefully some interactive ones too.  Our work will be inspired by our exploration of materials and our responses to sound, pitch and vibration. We’ll be extending our thinking and learning some new scientific and creative vocabulary too… doesn’t that SOUND fun?

Session 1

Our sound project…it’s been a long time in the making and it’s great to get started! We began with a film on sound waves and vibrations. It’s relatively easy to understand…we think! We notice that our artist Fiona has brought a selection of unusual objects, none resembling instruments. Our brief is to try and create a range of sounds with them. We’re playful and enjoy beating, plucking, strumming and blowing, but interestingly it’s relatively quiet…we’re all ears you see. We’re listening! We’re trying to identify how the sounds are made and trying to find a pattern between the pitch of the sound and the changing features of the objects that produce it. We record our discoveries in secret and return to the group. Will they recognise the combinations of things that created the sound? In most cases the answer is yes and viewing the sound waves recorded on the device is mesmerising. This task is complete and we’ve made a start on our next assignment of blown wind pieces. More to follow!


I liked recording different sounds, listening carefully and guessing what created it!

 We used different objects to create sounds – I became more experienced at making noise.

 I learnt that when you use and pluck a rubber band, it makes a noise. If you wrap it tighter, it creates a new noise.


Session 2

Energy levels are high as we begin our next task. We’ve all started with the same base materials as this is a collaborative piece that relies on multiples. It looks intriguing! Forms are tubular, plastic and hollow, they have the capacity to hold elements that can potentially create sounds. It’s up to us to choose and select the type and proportion of “filling”. We know from previous experimentation that this will affect the overall sound and tone produced. We test our tubes and listen carefully to record our findings. It’s not only the sound that’s important to us but the external appearance is a strong design feature too. Each sound maker is as individual as we are. We have fun personalising and honing our wrapping and binding skills. Wenjoy comparing styles and refining techniques and are excited to see the fruits of our labour as we group them together as a collection…a collection that will require a different kind of interaction in order to produce the sound we intend.


If you put less or more materials into a tube, it makes a different sound.

When you shake the tube, it vibrates – and that’s what lets you hear the noise.

I learnt that sounds come from different directions.

Not all sounds are the same.

 I really liked wrapping the tubes with cotton – it took a lot of patience.

The class were excited about the display being interactive, as they thought that other children would enjoy it.

Session 3

With last week’s sound makers all wrapped up and tested, we’re inspired to begin a series of drawings using a combination of techniques. Assisted by a voice recorder, sound apps and our amazing tech savvy teacher Miss Sewell we begin uploading our pre-recorded tracks and observe the linear sound waves produced. They are amazing! We print them out and fold them carefully, inserting a sheet of carbon paper between the fold. Our drawing tools are simple – a ruler, a 2H pencil and an awful lot of patience. This takes almost as much time as the thread wrapping stage last week! Relieved though, we’re able to intersperse this with another task, how can we create an octave of sound using elastic bands and a stiffened card sound board. We haven’t tested these yet as we’re saving that for next week. It’s been fun and we’ve learnt a new way of drawing that has allowed us to create the effect and results we were after.


We created copies of our shaker sounds by using graphite paper

We used special pencils because the material was very soft

We created guitar-like instruments. We wrapped the bands to make a range of pitch from low to high

The pitch changed depending on the tightness of the elastic band

There was radial and linear versions of our sounds

Session 4

It’s a KINDER start to our final session this week. Clearly had not had enough chocolate over the Easter holidays, so we thought it best to introduce some more. Our chocolate treats will be used for quite a different reason as it fuels our next sound investigation experiment. We’re starting with the same “filling” ingredients although our container this time is different, requiring three more components to create. We discuss its shape and try to describe our new for. A special thank-you to Tiphaine, our amazing Cummins engineer for helping solve this one…it’s a cylinder! What impact will this have on the sound we wonder and how will it differ from our conical shaped sound makers? Excitedly we eat our chocolate and consider it! It’s difficult because our balloons are stretchy but this makes them fun and tricky to work with. There’s a lot of laughter and lots of explosions but we find a way of encapsulating our freshly filled eggs and customising them. They’re stretched and flexed and tightly guided through the reflective CDs which help support the sound and enhance their appearance. The rubber is then squeezed and passed through a tiny hole in the backing plate and secured neatly on the reverse. PHEW! We made it. Now it’s competition time! The room is silent. Which container will create the greater sound: the conical wave or the cylindrical cluster?

You’ll have to find out by visiting our exhibition at Batley Library this summer!

This was my best session ever and I liked the part when we did the shakers.

Today project was challenging as I did it and I knew it was worth it.

I liked making the shakers because it made different sounds.

The experience was amazing. We explored and discovered why sounds are louder than others. We made a kazoo and shakers…we also had kinder eggs!