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McREL Standards Activity

Jitterbug and Shake, Rattle, and Vibrate

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to explain that various objects can be made to vibrate, producing different sounds.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 9.Understands the sources and properties of energy
   Level I [Grade K-2]
   Benchmark 4. Knows that sound is produced by vibrating objects
Student Product:Response to questions
Material & Resources:

  • A wide source of objects that can be made to vibrate and produce sound, such as rubber bands, glasses filled with different amounts of water, toy drums, cymbals, different lengths of string, tuning forks, a guitar, etc.
  • a person who can play the piano and be "Mr. Jitter E. Bugg" for the students, or, if that’s not feasible, a recording of lively piano music (quick-tempo jazz or swing would be best)
Teacher's Note:No supplementary notes for this activity.
First, introduce students to the word "vibration." In order to show the students what a vibration is, stretch a rubber band and pluck it with your fingers. Have students watch as the rubber band moves quickly back and forth. Then demonstrate "vibration" using different objects, such as a tuning fork and a drum. Suggest that students use their ears as well as their eyes to detect a vibration. Have them close their eyes and listen as you make different objects vibrate while they attempt to guess what the object is. When students seem to have a clear understanding of the concept of vibration, provide them with the following scenario:

"Our class has just received an unusual request from a Mr. Jitter E. Bugg. It seems that Mr. Bugg is a pianist who has become tired of playing the same old music week after week, so he has come up with a rather unusual idea for his next concert. He wants to title his next concert ’Shake, Rattle, and Vibrate,’ and he would like all of you to help with the ’vibrate’ part. While Mr. Bugg plays his piano, he would like you to add to his music by selecting various objects and making them vibrate to his tune. Do you think you can help out Mr. Bugg?"

Provide students with a variety of vibrating objects they can use to make sounds. Let them experiment with the available objects, as well as come up with their own ideas for various items that could be used to create vibration and sound. Provide direction with ways to manipulate the objects, if this help is needed (e.g., try tightening or loosening stringed objects, such as guitars and rubber bands). After they have had adequate time to experiment, have the students perform their concert with Mr. Jitter E. Bugg.

Present the following questions to students to be answered, allowing them continued access to the objects.

  1. What happens when an object "vibrates?"
  2. We have experimented with all kinds of vibrating objects today, but can you name some other objects and instruments that vibrate and make sounds?
  3. Do some objects make better-sounding vibrations than others? Which objects do you think make the best sounds (which are your favorites)?
  4. How can you change the vibration of an object and what is the effect created?