Propagation of Sound: Help a Rock Star Tune Their Guitar!

Time to complete course: 27 min.

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About Propagation of Sound: Help a Rock Star Tune Their Guitar! Virtual Lab Simulation

Can you hear me over the sound of all this knowledge? In this simulation, you will learn that sound is actually a pressure wave! You will explore how sound is produced by vibrating objects, how it propagates through different media, and how it is detected by your ears. By experimenting with the frequency and amplitude of a sound wave, you will discover what affects the pitch and loudness of the sound that you hear. Using this information, you will then help a musician to tune their guitar just before their concert starts.

What is Sound?

Shrink down to one-fiftieth of your regular size and hop in the Shrink-o-Ship to see a propagating sound wave up close! Watch as a vibrating guitar string creates a sound wave in the surrounding air particles; follow it as it passes through a solid medium and observe its speed and wavelength change; then discover how it interacts with and is detected by your ear. Dr. One will explain each step and test your understanding while you enjoy the show.

Properties of a Sound Wave

Freely experiment with the frequency and amplitude of a sound wave and listen to how this affects the pitch and loudness of the sound in real-time. You can’t learn about sound without things getting noisy!

Tune the Guitar!

Your favorite rock star has lost their digital tuner and needs your help to get the guitar tuned in time for the concert! Luckily, you can use your newfound expertise on sound waves to operate the Labster Universal Tuner. For each string, listen to and compare the pitch, loudness, and waveform of the sound produced to that of the desired reference note then adjust the frequency and amplitude to bring it back into tune. The clock is ticking; can you tune the whole guitar in time?

Get Started Now

Ride the Shrink-o-Ship to see a propagating sound wave up close while learning about the production, propagation, and detection of sound. Experiment with the properties of a sound wave and use your newfound knowledge to help a rock star tune their guitar!

Techniques in Lab

  • Sound as a wave
  • Production of Sound by vibrating objects
  • Propagation of sound through different media and how this affects speed/wavelength
  • Detection of sound by the ear
  • Pitch and loudness of sound

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • recognize that sound is a wave and link its generation, propagation, and detection to vibrations and changes in pressure
  • describe how the speed of a sound wave depends on the medium through which it travels and use 
  • v=f𝜆 to predict the change in wavelength as it passes from one medium to another
  • relate pitch and loudness to frequency and amplitude using the graphical representation of a sound wave

Simulation Features

Length – 27 minutes
Accessibility mode – Not Available
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards

  • HS-PS4-1
  • PS4.C-H1

Screenshots of Propagation of Sound: Help a Rock Star Tune Their Guitar! Virtual Lab Simulation


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