STEM Saturday: Ears and Sound

For the fans of Saturday Science, do not be dismayed! Saturday Science is alive and well, my co-hosts and I have merely expanded the theme to create STEM Saturdays. For those who are unaware, STEM is short for Science Technology Engineering and Math. Four subjects which are crucial to our children in this ever changing world. Four subjects which are sorely lacking in many people’s education.

As I talked about before, LittleMan recently had a run in with some beans in the ears which required general anesthesia and a specialist in order to remove them. It wasn’t on the original lesson plan to learn about the anatomy of the ear nor how sound travels but sitting in the doctor’s office surrounded by models and posters of the various parts of the middle and inner ear, it seemed like a good time to talk about these things. LittleMan understandably had a lot of questions and the one activity that seemed to help him the most was this model ear.

STEM Saturday, Model Ear (1)

I found the directions for it on eHow.
I’ll warn you right now that the directions are poorly worded and there are some steps involving a spring form cheesecake pan which are unnecessary. If you want to make your own model ear then you’ll only need some cardboard, scissors, plastic wrap, rubber bands, a bendy straw, a ping pong ball, a small bowl of water, double sided tape, super glue, and something round that you can use to trace a semi-circle onto the cardboard. Follow the pictures in this tutorial (click here) and you’ll be good to go.
If you have any questions or run into any problems because the tutorial is poorly worded, you can always feel free to comment below or send me and email and I’ll see if I can help walk you through the steps for this project.
STEM Saturday, Model Ear (2)

Our model worked well and did exactly what we needed it to do.
We enjoyed making different sounds at one end of the model and watching how it effected the outcome with the waves in the water at the other end of the model.
When we finished exploring in this manner, we then blew up a small balloon in what would be the middle ear to show how the bean in LittleMan’s ear disrupted the travel of the sound. I tried to show LittleMan how big the bean was in comparison to his ear canal unfortunately cardboard doesn’t swell the way that human tissues do so the demonstration came out a little wonky.

It is very difficult for a 5 year old to grasp the concept of sounds as an invisible wave but seeing the waves in the water and being able to equate them to the waves he saw when we visited the lake over the summer helped him greatly.


Check out what my STEM Saturday co-hosts are up to!
Fall Science Experiment for Kids | Pinecones from Lemon Lime Adventures
LEGO Math | Place Value from The Science Kiddo


For more hands-on STEM exploration check out our STEM Saturday Pinterest Board!
Follow Sarah McClelland’s board Science Experiments for Kids on Pinterest.

Link up your STEM projects below!

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4 Comments to STEM Saturday: Ears and Sound

  1. […] Ears and Sound from Suzy Homeschooler […]

  2. ChristyM says:

    I like the analogy of sound waves and waves at the lake. Saving this for future use!

  3. […] math and science activities: Fall Science Experiment for Kids | Pinecones from Lemon Lime AdventuresEars and Sound from Suzy HomeschoolerAnimal Trackers Club from The Joys of […]

  4. Jessica says:

    I am having the hardest time getting this thing to work! I followed the directions on eHow, but found them as confusing as you said they were. I don’t know if I’m not getting the plastic wrap tight enough or what, do you have any suggestions for troubleshooting?

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