Auditory System - Sound Waves and The Outer Ear

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students begin their exploration of the auditory system using Google Expeditions. They begin to understand that sound is made of compression's and rarefaction's, they then demonstrate their understanding of the outer ear through designing a “super ear”.

Learning outcomes
  • To understand that sound is a (longitudinal) wave made of compression's and rarefaction's
  • To know what the function of the outer ear (pinna) is
  • To be able to label the structure of the outer ear

Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and select the expedition Auditory System - The Outer Ear.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Review the video content in the Lesson resources section to update your knowledge and develop some teaching ideas.

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (20 mins)
    Explain what sound is (longitudinal wave, type of energy). Demonstrate waves using a slinky. Students cup their hands round their ears and whisper to each other to see how a larger “outer ear” amplifies the sound. Explain that the outer ear is made of cartilage, not bone and that this is the same tissue as your nose and a shark’s skeleton.

    Students work in pairs each taking a photo of their partner’s ear and saving it in a Google Doc. Explain that the class is about to go on an expedition to the outer ear.
  2. Expedition (20 mins)
    Lead students through the expedition. Students explore and label their photos with the following structures of the outer ear: antihelix, auditory canal, triangular fossa, tragus, ear lobe, outer ear on the accompanying resource.

    You could also use the diagram of the ear on the Student Sheet found in the Lesson resources section.
  3. Activity (20 mins)
    Explain how the parts of the outer ear work together to allow a person to hear sound. Students write an answer to the question: How do the parts of the outer ear work together to allow a person to hear sound?

    Lead discussion asking: Is there any variation in ear shape within the class? Why? Students design a “super ear” it will be an extension of the outer ear in order to improve hearing.
  4. Extension
    Students research why some animals can move their ears. Students research and annotate photos of different mammalian ears. They can try and explain why they have the shape they do.
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