Science Question

It’s a STEM Challenge


Choose one Sound Experiment and Choose One Light Experiment for your submission.


Stem Challenge #1  Being Light


You will need a clear round glass filled with water, pencil (or straw or butter knife) and your computer.


Hold your rounded glass that has been ¾ filled with water up to the pictures below: Talon in Philly picture and the diagonal stripes.  Look through the glass and the water.   What is on the left and what is on the right?   Which direction are the lines going?  How does the image change based on the distance to the screen?  What happens to the pencil at the top of the water?


Explain each of these phenomena based on the key terms from Chapter 7.  Share a picture of one of your observations.


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Stem Challenge #2   Hunting Light


You will need a flashlight, camera, dark room, ruler, white paper, 4 of the objects from the list below and method of recording.


Set up the flashlight so it will sign on to your white paper.  Use four of the items from the gather list below to test.   Record what happens to the light as you place each item between the light and the paper.  Use the rule to test the object at 2-3 distances from the light.  Does the light reach the paper?  Why or why not?   Explain what is happening to the light waves using the key terms from Chapter 7 with each of the four objects that you test.   Share your results in data data as well as a picture of your setup.


Items to test:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Tupperware container
  • Glass jar
  • Mirror
  • Quarter or dime
  • Spoon
  • Glasses
  • Random item of your choosing


Stem Challenge # 3   The Speed of Light


Materials:   Microwave, 4 Slices of Bread, Butter knife, butter/ margarine, plate or shallow bowl


You will be creating a test to measure the speed of light.


You will need to know the MHz or GHz of your microwave and this should be listed on the back of the microwave.


To set up the experiment you don’t want the microwave turntable to rotate so remove the tray and cover the rotation parts with a plate.  You want to butter all the Slices of butter clear to the edge and even buttering the edges to hold it together like joints.   You are creating a buttered bread platform in the microwave.  Place this on top of another plate or the turntable piece that was previously removed.   Microwave the butter/bread for 10-15 seconds but check every 4-5 seconds.  You want the butter to be just melty and not liquid.


Measure the distance between the melted areas.   Multiply the wavelength that you found by the microwaves frequency.    Show your work with these calculations.


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Stem Challenge #4 Visualizing Bird Sounds


Materials: Computer, speakers/headphones, Ability to screenshot


Birdsong hero –   Birds each have their own distinct songs.  Those chirps and notes can be translated into visual spectrograms.   Watch the video about how spectrograms can be used to visual bird songs from Cornell Lab at the link below


Play the quiz game to learn how to visualize the sound patterns. Make sure to listen and watch whether you get the correct answer or not to see how the sound is recorded by the spectrogram.


Take a picture of your score with the data and time as your visual for the lab report.

  • How can you tell a change in decibel?   What is resonating?  What is the result of resonance? What does the brightness represent on a visual spectrogram?    How is pitch represented?  How is time represented?  How is this similar or different than morse code? How can you tell a change in decibel?


Stem Challenge #5 Visualizing Sound


Materials:  Computer, speakers/headphones, microphone or phone recording,  Ability to screenshot


Use the online Voice recorder that we will be using in week 7 and record yourself or someone else saying your own name or some other short phrase.

  • Say your name or the short phrase – normal volume, whisper and then shout and screenshot the visual recording.  Using the Snipping Tool and label the different volumes (normal, whisper and shout).
  • Record your voice or other voice singing Happy Birthday or Twinkle Twinkle. Take a screenshot as well.

Label the different words of the song?  What do you notice about the audio recording relevant to volume and time?

  • Download the audio file and upload it to use the Audio Tools.  What happens when the pitch is lowered?  What happens when you raise the pitch?
  • How can you tell a change in decibel?


Share all of your screenshots in your lab report and one of your voice recordings.  Answer all the questions.

·        What do you notice about the audio recording relevant to volume and time?

·        What happens when you change pitch?  Why would this be?

·         How is time represented?

·        How can you tell when there is a change in decibel level?

·        How is intensity demonstrated?

·        What is resonating?  What is the result of resonance?


Stem Challenge #6  Feel the vibrations


Materials:  yarn, string, fishing line or dental floss;  wooden spoon or pencil; plastic spoon or ink pen, large and small metal spoon; table or ruler; your ears and a camera.


You will be using a string (yarn, fishing line or dental floss) that is approximately 3feet long.  Tie a spoon or pen/ pencil to the middle of that string.  The two open ends of the string will be wrapped around your index fingers and then plug ears with the same fingers.  Gentle knock the spoon against a table or with another object.   What happens?

Try it again with a different object, (plastic spoon, ink pen, wooden spoon, smaller/larger metal spoon).  What happens with harder taps or softer knocks?


Include a picture of your set up.


·        What happens with harder tap or softer knock?

·        What is the conductor? What is resonating?

·         What is the result of resonance?

·        How can you tell a change in decibel level?

·        Why is there a difference between wood, metal or plastic?  Did you try different string type materials, did it make a difference?


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