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Simple Musical Instruments

Cardboard guitarPairs of students in grades 3 – 5 investigate sound frequencies and acoustic engineering by creating four different instruments – a shoebox guitar, water-glass xylophone, straw panpipe, and soda bottle organ.

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Lesson: Sound Booth Construction

sound booth1In this activity, students in grades 7-9 explore the sound-dampening capability of materials by designing and prototyping model sound booths. They learn about how sound is reflected and absorbed, and how it travels through various materials, providing an overview of sound dampening propagation in the context of engineering.

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Lesson: Sound Wave Reflections

In this activity, students determine the path traveled by sound waves as they reflect from room surfaces and the time it takes to travel each path. Assuming the role of acoustic engineers, students gain an overview of sound mechanics that involves rate calculations, working with number systems, and a bit of geometry.

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Feature: Sonic Boom

The dance between technology and music has long been a close one. Now, the tempo of that tango is picking up speed. Breakthroughs in engineering and electronics are radically altering how music today is played, recorded, distributed and listened to. Want a surefire way of becoming a big noise in the music biz? Earn an engineering degree.

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Feature: Breaking the Sound Barrier

At Drexel University, Assistant Prof. Youngmoo Kim and his students think up ways to put the power of a music arranger into the hands of unskilled and untutored listeners. Literally into their hands: Soon, if Kim’s research pans out, an iPhone could be all a listener needs to imprint downloaded music with his or her own taste and style, adjusting tempo, pitch, and mood.

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Feature: Acoustics – Infinite Improvisation

GuitarTop instrumentalists often own a collection of guitars, in part because no two sound exactly alike. As the grain of every piece of wood is unique, so, too, are the acoustics of each instrument. Now, Massachusetts Institute of Technology master’s student Amit Zoran has created the Chameleon Guitar. Its wooden midsection — the soundboard — is removable, so that soundboards made from different woods or materials can be inserted.

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Students’ Summer: Music Tech at Drexel U. Aug. 2-6

Drexel University’s Summer Music Technology (SMT) program August 2-6, 2010, introduces high school students (esp. grades 10 and 11) to the technology of digital music to reveal the influence and importance of engineering, science, and mathematics in music performance, recording, and listening. Cost: Free. Application Deadline: April 12, 2010. No new information for 2011.

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A Techie Approach to Music

Music is the one thing that all students love. But there’s also a big and growing technical element to music that will also likely pique their interest — and possibly give them new career options. That’s why computers and technology have become an important part of music and band classes at Arizona’s Pima School District.

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Lesson: Energy Transfer in Musical Instruments

Energy transfer is a central concept in the majority of engineering designs, including designs for musical instruments. In this lesson, students will grasp the concepts of energy and energy transfer, and then apply what they’ve learned by designing and building their own musical instruments.

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