Physics Grade 5/6

The fifth and sixth grade recently experienced their first block of physics, specifically acoustics (sound) and optics (light and color).

In the acoustics portion we started by observing the many sounds that surround us every day. The students listened quietly with their eyes closed for one minute, then wrote down all the sounds that they heard. They were surprised by how much goes unnoticed as we go about our day. We then played a game called “Mystery Sounds” where sounds were produced from behind a screen using different objects (keys, sandpaper, striking a match, etc) as they tried to identify what they were. We went on to performing experiments making sounds using different sizes of bottles which were blown into, wine glasses filled with varying amounts of water that were struck, and exploring how sound travels through air, wood, metal and string (using can and string telephones:)

The final experiment involved using a Chladni plate. Sand or salt is sprinkled on the metal plate (which is held up on a pedestal) a violin bow is drawn across its edge, and the vibration causes geometric forms to appear! Different forms are created depending on the tone produced. This experiment brought forth many oohs and aaahs from the students.

Physics is brought in this way and at this time in the child’s development to help them develop their growing powers of observation. Through their experience of the phenomena, concepts are formed from real life as opposed to being given to them in an abstract way. This nurtures the child’s sense of awe and wonder of the surrounding world as they grow and mature.


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