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Dangerous Decibels

Elementary, Middle

Description

In comparison to other environmental issues noise pollution often receives little attention.  Yet, our world is becoming increasingly noisy and there is an important concern about the human and environmental damage from all of this loud sound.  This series of science activities is designed to develop awareness about hearing loss and tinnitus associated with an excessively noisy environment.  In a hands-on inquiry process students will explore

  • The physiology of hearing.
  • The physics of sound.
  • Types of hearing damage caused by loud noise.
  • Sources of noise pollution.
  • Ways to reduce noise in our environment.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Observation
  • Listening
  • Modeling
  • Measuring
  • Inferring
  • Hypthesizing

Strengths

  • Rigorous science content.
  • Provides a great deal of background information for the teacher.
  • Includes an online virtual exhibit.
  • Activities were reviewed by teachers and science content specialists.

Weaknesses

  • Does not include summative assessment strategies.
  • No adaptations for students who may struggle with the heavy science content.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This teaching unit has a strong science content that supports the development of inquiry and analysis skills along with specific outcomes related to sound, hearing and senses.  Human health is also an important topic as students learn about the detrimental effects of noise pollution.  The innovative approach fosters continued learning about sound in our environment and students could continue to explore this issue by learning about the impacts of noise pollution on marine mammals. 

A unique action project could involve a class in organizing a day of silence at school.  Promoting quiet time in the playground and areas like gym class could highlight how noisy our lives can become.  The school could even walk to a local park where they could observe wildlife through sound by listening for bird calls and insect songs.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 3
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      • Health Education
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        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world.
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        • Safety: A lifetime of optimal well-being is supported by prioritizing health and safety
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        • Exploring connections strengthens our understandings of relationships to help us make meaning of the world
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        • Safety: A lifetime of optimal well-being is supported by prioritizing health and safety
  • British Columbia
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        • Physical and Health Education: Personal choices and social and environmental factors influence our health and well-being
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        • Physical and Health Education: Personal choices and social and environmental factors influence our health and well-being
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 4
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      • Science
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        • Sound
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        • Maintaining a Healthy Body
  • New Brunswick
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        • Scince 6 Wayfinding: Making sense of your world: Nature of Science
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
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        • Energy & Control: Light & Sound Energy
        • Matter & Materials: Materials That Transmit, Reflect or Absorb Light & Sound
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        • Life Systems: Human Organ Systems
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
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        • Energy & Control: Light & Sound Energy
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        • Life Systems: Human Organ Systems
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  • Saskatchewan
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        • Investigating Health Knowledge and Information: Apply Decisions
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        • Sharing What It Means to Be Healthy: Action Planning
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        • Sound
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        • Facing Obstacles and Embracing Opportunities to Holistic Well-being: Action Planning
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        • Human Body Systems
  • Yukon Territory
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        • Physical and Health Education: Personal choices and social and environmental factors influence our health and well-being
    • Grade 5
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physical Education & Health
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical and Health Education: Personal choices and social and environmental factors influence our health and well-being

Themes Addressed

  • Human Health & Environment (3)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
    • Health Promotion
    • Quality of Life

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Hearing loss is investigated from the perspective of how our interaction with the environment can affect our health.  Students will be surprised by the types of damage caused by everyday devices.  The emphasis is on taking action to improve personal wellness and reduce noise pollution.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

Students learn about the science of noise while also considering how they can be active participants in their own hearing health by learning sound reduction techniques and motivating others to protect their ears.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

Rather than isolating hearing loss as being caused by individual sounds, this teaching unit supports the concept that human health and environmental health are interconnected.    

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

The lessons do not contain any specific action projects however students are engaged in individual strategies for reducing noise in their own lives which could become the basis of an initiative to promote noise reduction within the local community.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

The environmental conservation ethic of students will benefit as they realize how the noise they create can impact themselves and others.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

One of the unique features of this unit is an online virtual exhibit which includes a session where students can listen to sounds with a simulated hearing loss.  This activity fosters empathy for classmates and community members that are deaf.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered

The activities are classroom based but a great listening experience could be provided by taking students outside to experience the relative quietness of a local natural area.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

Students measure sounds at school and identify sources of noise pollution within their community.  They also define personal plans for reducing noise in their own lives.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Poor/Not considered

Although the activities explore noise from a present day context, a discussion about the future of noise pollution could be combined with an investigation of emerging technologies such as electric cars.  Students could research how these types of innovations support a cleaner and quieter environment.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The experiments provide students with an autonomous learning experience that supports enthusiastic learning.   They are able to develop hypotheses and test their predictions to support informed conclusions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Poor/Not considered

This resource is primarily science based but has strong curriculum connections to outcomes related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The hands-on approach supports an environment where students can actively engage with content.  Pupils will likely experience significant breakthroughs in terms of how their hearing can be impacted by everyday noise.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

One of the unique features of this resource is that additional information is provided for gifted students who would like to learn more about each science topic.  The online virtual exhibit with interactive games also offers an additional instructional strategy for differentiation.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

All of the activities are hands-on and interactive which provides an authentic learning experience.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students work in small groups. 

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Assessment strategies are limited in this resource, although reflection questions do provide an opportunity for formative assessment through whole class or small group discussions.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered

Students work in small groups or partners so there can be some think-pair-share activity, but overall peer teaching is not considered in this resource.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered

Case studies are not included in the resource activities.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

Experimentation is an integral component of the Dangerous Decibels resource and students are encouraged to actively explore the topic through modeling, testing and observation.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.