What Is Sound?

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11472

What does a sound sound like? Why does it sound like a sound? What instrument lives inside my ear? Learn how sounds are made and heard, play loud music(!), hear whales, and make your own harmonica!


Physical Science

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What is sound?
  • Where does it come from?


  • When you first saw the word sound, you probably thought of a noise that you hear, but what exactly is that noise?
  • What is creating it?

To discover exactly what sound is, perform a few simple activities. Draw the following chart on a piece of paper. You will complete this chart as you perform the activities:

  Rubber Band Throat


You probably noticed the five senses are listed on the chart. In order to describe sound and learn exactly what it is, you are going to use your senses.

For the first activity, you need a rubber band.

  1. Loop the rubber band around your thumb and pointer finger.
  2. Stretch your fingers until the rubber band is taut, or pulled tight.
  3. Using the pointer finger of your opposite hand, pluck the rubber band. Do this several times using different amounts of force.
  4. Record in the chart what you see, feel, taste (do not actually lick the rubber band, just note if you taste anything different in the air while you are plucking), hear, and smell.

For the next activity, you will need to stand in front of a mirror.

  1. Gently place your hands on the sides of your throat.
  2. With your hands touching your throat, say "AHHHHHHHHH." Start out saying "AHHH…" softly and slowly, then raise the volume of your voice.
  3. Record your observations in the chart.

Based on what you wrote in your chart, try to develop a definition for sound.

You should have noticed that sound is tasteless and does not have a smell. What you heard with each activity probably varied depending on the force used with the rubber band, and how loudly you spoke.

What you saw and felt for each activity should have been the same. With each activity, you should have seen and felt vibrations. This is because sound is defined as a form of energy that is produced and transmitted by vibrating matter.

  • Did you say something about vibrations in the definition you created?

To learn more about what sound is, watch What is Sound? (Neuro Transmissions):

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  • According to the video, how are you are able to hear sounds?
  • Who knew that the ear drum is actually like a tiny drum within the ear?

As sound waves bump into the ear drum, it vibrates, causing you to hear sounds. That is pretty amazing!

Move on to the next section to keep learning about how amazing sound is!

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