That is what the students of West New York No. 3 School had the chance to find out this past Wednesday when representatives of the Liberty Science Center's Traveling Science Program put on a special presentation for the school's fifth and sixth graders called "Shaking: The Science of Sound."
Simply explained, sound is made up of vibrations pushing back and forth through the air or other matter, which can be heard but not seen.
So it was up to the specialized personnel of the Liberty Science Center to make the experience of sound more tangible to the naked eye.
In a special partnership agreement with New Jersey's Abbott District "special needs" schools, the Liberty Science Center provides workshops, free admission, and traveling presentations for these schools several times a year. These have become more in demand due to the center's closure for renovations until the summer of 2007.
"The traveling program tries to bring a little piece of the science center to the schools," said Judi Bickford, interpretive associate. "We bring our experts and conduct presentations, so that kids can have a good time learning about science."
West New York's School No. 3 receives an annual visit from the center. The lessons coincide with the school's curriculum.
Vincent F. Pitrelli, assistant principal, said, "Science has become one of the testing areas, and has become more and more important year in and year out, so we provide these programs in the fifth and sixth grade to help supplement the curriculum."
West New York No. 3 School first began its partnership with the Liberty Science Center about four years ago.
"From what I have seen so far, it's a lot of enthusiasm from the kids, and we get positive feedback form the teachers," said Michael Stagg, science educator.
"They came last year and it was excellent," said Zoila Broncano, fifth grade science teacher. "The presentation is only for the fifth and sixth grades because it's at their grade level. It's in the sixth grade curriculum, and for fifth graders this is almost an anticipation of what they will do next year."
Magic of sound
This year, students had the chance to see through visual experiments, some which could be duplicated in the classroom, the power of sound, types of sounds, and what changes sound.
"It's one of our newest programs, and sound is something all the kids can relate too," said Andrew Prasarn, science educator. "We try to take science out of the traditional textbook, and get kids motivated about it."
Sound is everywhere, from the wind heard through the trees, and of course, through music.
Prasarn and his colleague Michael Stagg showed the students examples of this motion, and how the vibrations pushing through the air can even put out a candle.
Students had the chance to participate in many of the experiments, which included pulling on springs, beating drums, and the all-time favorite, screaming at the top of their lungs.
Prasarn and Stagg had the students conduct a series of experiments that made the kids roar with laughter, especially when demonstrating how helium can change the pitch of their voices.
"It was good, and I learned a lot of different things that I didn't know before," said Maria Fernandez, 11, fifth grade.
The students also had a chance to see the vibrations of sound in their voices with a special machine called the laser pattern generator, and how sound ceases to exist when there is no air. Ending the presentation was an experiment of a sonic boom, which included a whip demonstration that had the kids screaming for more.
"I didn't know that a little piece of whip could make such a big sound, and I liked it when the candle got blown out too," said Jennifer Acosta, 11, fifth grade.
While the Liberty Science Center is under renovation, they will be running a temporary exhibit called "Eat or Be Eaten" at the Central Jersey Railroad in Jersey City, and continuing with the traveling science program until their main facility reopens in July 2007.
For more information visit www.lsc.org. Jessica Rosero can be reached at email@example.com