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DOES IT SOUND CONFUSING?

Test your friends ability to judge the direction of sounds

Suitable For

Grade 6

Difficulty

2

Time Required

 <12 Hours

Supervision

Advised

What’s it about?

Humans have ‘stereoscopic vision’, meaning that we can judge the direction and distance of an object because each of our eyes sees from a slightly different angle, resulting in a perception of depth. Similarly, because our ears are positioned on either side of our heads, we can identify the direction of sounds quite accurately. This is called ‘binaural hearing’, meaning we hear with two ears. Perform the following science experiment to demonstrate how difficult it is to judge the direction of sound with only one ear:

Topics covered

Stereoscopic vision, Binaural hearing

What will I need?

  • 2x FUNNELS
  • RUBBER TUBING
  • STICKY TAPE
  • A FRIEND
  • GLASS BOTTLE
  • PENCIL

Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

This science experiment works because when we hear a sound coming from the right side, the right ear hears the sound a fraction of a second before the left ear, and because sound travels in waves, the right ear hears a slightly different part of the same wave than the left ear. These sound waves are then translated into nerve impulses by our ears and eardrums travelling to our brains for interpretation. Our brains then deduce these two slightly different and out of step impulses from each ear, as a sound that originated from the right.

When hearing a sound, we unconsciously move our heads around constantly to receive the sound waves to each of our ears as differently as possible, to best judge the direction of the sound. Our brains are usually very confused by sounds coming from the back or from the top of us. Our brains develop its fine ability to judge directions of sounds over many years. Our brain’s previous learning can be undone quite easily with the device above.

Like the sound of it?

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