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Siemens Stiftung

Sound propagation in solid bodies

Demonstration of a simple experiment on sound propagation in solid bodies. A table top transmits sound, for example.

In old Westerns the Indians put their ears to the ground and listen and the bandits do the same at the railway line. The students can do the same at the table.
These examples show that not only air conducts sound but also solid bodies and how sound propagation is affected positively or negatively by different materials

Information and ideas:
Variations of the experiment:
A tuning fork that has been struck is put onto the table top. Now, put different materials between the tuning fork and the table top and observe the influence of these materials. In this way, the transmission of sound with different materials can be compared.
Use an alarm clock instead of the tuning fork. If you position your ear on the table top the alarm clock seems to be louder. How does the sound volume change if a plate or the like is positioned under the alarm clock?

Relevant for teaching:
Acoustic phenomena
Sound/acoustics: parameters
Vibrations and waves