All About Amplitude

Lesson Plan

State Standards:

Essential Question:

In this activity, you are going to be a Sound Detective.
You are going to learn how to measure the amplitude of sound and find out why it is important to know how to do so.

Lesson Question:

Sound is all around us.
One characteristic of sound is amplitude or volume.
Amplitude can be measured.
HOW??? Keep working and you will find out!!!!!


You have learned a lot about different forms of energy and about sound energy. You have learned that sound has 3 important characteristics:

  1. frequency (pitch)
  2. timbre (quality of the sound)
  3. amplitude (volume)


Time to view a video!
Are you ready to hear some extreme sounds?

Then watch the video about EXTREME SOUNDS!
As you watch the video,

Video: Extreme Sounds

Lesson Experiences:

Lesson 1 - Being a Sound Detective!

Being a Sound Detective in school!
Now that you have seen how amplitude can be measured, it’s your turn to do the same thing!


A LOUD sound has a large amplitude.
Rub hands together A soft sound has a small amplitude.

How are you going to measure the amplitude of sounds?

You don't have to have a special meter. Your own hands can be your loudness meter! These are your reference sounds.

  1. Snap your fingers Make a soft sound by gently rubbing your palms together.
    If you can hear the shooshing, that place is quiet.

  2. Snap your fingers.
    If you can't hear the shooshing but can hear the fingersnaps, that place is moderately LOUD.

  3. Clap your hands
  4. Clap your hands.
    If you can't hear fingersnaps but can hear clapping, the place is LOUD.

  5. If you can't hear clapping, the place is DANGEROUSLY LOUD. You need ear protection!!!!!

Measure sounds around your school

With the members of your group, use the reference sounds to investigate sounds around your school.

  1. Before you begin, assign each person in your group one of the reference sounds:
    • One person will make the shooshing sound.
    • One person will snap their fingers.
    • One person will clap their hands.
  2. Who in your group will be the sound detective?
    That person’s job is to listen to the sounds made and decide which reference sound they can/can’t hear.
  3. You will need one copy of this Observing Amplitude Chart for each person in your group to use to record your observations.
  4. Go to different parts of the school with your group and make the three reference sounds.
    Be sure to record of your observations and be ready to share what you discover with the class.

Being a Sound Detective at home!

Now that you have worked with your group, try the activity at home.

  1. Walk around your house, your yard, or your neighborhood. Go to the grocery store or ride in the car. You will find lots of places to find sound.
  2. See if you can record at least 6 sounds that have different amplitudes on your Observing Amplitude Chart.

Lesson 2 - Why is AMPLITUDE so important?

Lesson Question:

Why is AMPLITUDE so important?

Task/Lesson Experiences:

Dangerous Decibels Scale

So now that you have become familiar with what amplitude is, you need to know why it is important! First, you know that amplitude is volume and it refers to how loud or soft a sound is.

We like loud sounds, BUT, did you know they can be dangerous?

Loud sounds can cause hearing loss. For more information, go to the Dangerous Decibels website and read the page entitled: Noise Induced Hearing Loss(NIHL).
It might sound a bit scary but Listen Up.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is preventable.
Did you know that:

Dangerous Decibels Scale

Look at this scale on the right.

Safe sounds are in the green range.

Sounds that are dangerous to your ears are in the red range. These are the sounds that can cause hearing loss.

So what can you do if you are in a place with loud sounds? Watch this video for some good advice.



You are now an expert Sound Detective.

You KNOW to learn how to measure the amplitude of sound and you UNDERSTAND why it is important to know how to do so.

Your job is to file a report to teach others about what you have discovered. You may use a copy of the Sound Detective's Report worksheet or create your own report that has similar information.


Time to show what you have discovered!

Display what you have discovered about sounds of different amplitudes, by creating create a Wordle.

Choose either large amplitude sounds or small amplitude sounds as the main idea for the Wordle you create.


Click here to begin .......Wordle

Rubric for Wordle

4 - All of the following are evident

3 - Three of the following are evident

2 - The following are accomplished/some problems may be evident

1 - Many problems are evident - such as:

Rubric for Sound Detective’s Report

4 - Displays clear understanding of the following:

3 - Displays understanding of the following / a few details maybe missing:

2 - Displays weak understanding of the following / many missing details:

1 - Displays little/no understanding of the following: Definition of amplitude

  1. How amplitude can be measured
  2. Examples from observations given of sounds with different amplitudes
  3. Explains how loud sounds can cause hearing loss & how that can be prevented
  4. Uses
    • Many errors in spelling, grammar, & paragraph structure