Homeschool Science: Are Sounds Louder Under Water?

Homeschool Science: Are Sounds Louder Under Water?

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My boys and I recently watched Bill Nye the Science Guy’s video about Marine Animals. We learned a lot of great facts, such as how a whale or dolphin’s blubber keeps it warm.

water and soundWe have actually performed that experiment by coating a thermometer with vaseline and placing the thermometer in cold water. The vaseline acts as a protective or “blubber” layer, keeping the temperature of the thermometer lower than it would be otherwise.

Bill Nye showed another fun marine animal experiment to try. This one was about how sound travels underwater. In the experiment there were two drinking glasses, one filled with water, and one empty.

Supplies Needed:

  • Two drinking glasses
  • Table knife

Have your child put their ear inside the top of the empty drinking glass. Have them gently tap the side of the empty glass (the glass needs to be made of glass, not plastic) with the table knife.

Make sure the glass with the water in it is full all the way to the top of the glass. Have your child put their ear in that glass, with their ear fully in the water.

Next have them tap the side of the glass with the table knife.

Have them compare the sounds they hear in the two glasses. The sound inside the glass filled with water should be much louder.

Explain to your child that sounds are louder in water than out of water because water is denser than air, making water a better conductor of sound. Sound also travels through water faster than through air.

Here is another fun fact. Did you know that sound has to have a medium to pass through? Sound has to pass through a solid, liquid, or gas in order to be heard. In outer space these things don’t exist, everything exists in a vacuum, therefore sounds cannot be heard in outer space. Interesting!

If you want more technical information on this topic, check out: http://www.dosits.org/science/soundsinthesea/airwater/

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