Ways to teach… Sound (ish)

The marvellous David Cotton (@Newmanphysics) joins us to enthuse about teaching sound. We sailed down the river of KS3 Sound, but couldn’t help exploring up the sides of the valley to see what we could extract from David’s vast experience of teaching.

Thank you so much wonderful physics teaching community for all the tips tricks and techniques that you use to make sound live for your students. It is clear that there are dozens of ways to engage them in this topic. You’ll find links to the myriad ideas discussed at the bottom of this page, but don’t forget to listen as well. David’s enthusiasm is more infectious than… than… Oh, if only there was a fitting simile for something infectious in the national consciousness.

We tried to stick to KS3 but couldn’t resist a little journey into other levels too! Marvin and Milo will help you if you are a primary teacher; a discussion of beats is probably focused more on stretch and challenge at A-level. Who says the podcast doesn’t give you full value for money? Oh yes, free, and worth every penny.

Have a great Easter break!


Making beats with audacity

  1. Install audacity, it is free (and there are versions for Windows, Apple and Linux).
  2. Make tones with the Generate menu:
    1. Generate >> Tone… (Set to 400 Hz and Amplitude to 0.3*)
    2. Deselect the wave you made by clicking underneath it in the grey area
    3. Generate >> Tone… (Set to 401 Hz and Amplitude to 0.3)
  3. You can zoom in to see the waves with the magnifying glass (1)
  4. You can Play the tones individually using the Mute and Solo buttons (2)
  5. You can force them to left and right channels too if you want to try headphones (3)
  6. To mix them to a new track:
    1. CTRL+A to select both the tracks (they will go white)
    2. Tracks >> Mix and render to new track

*if it is above 0.5 then the combined wave will be higher than the maximum of 1.0 and very very loud.

Note the visual beat (moiré) in the pictures which is caused (we think) by the resolution of the monitor on which this screen grab was taken.

Join in!

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – on our Facebook Page: https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember), you could even email us an autio file if you are feeling really keen.


The music is used under the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License