Our Sense of Hearing

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In this activity, learners investigate the sense of hearing and plan and conduct their own experiments. In "CLASS EXPERIMENT," learners discover how we are able to judge where a sound is coming from with our eyes closed, and whether this judgment is easier for noises coming from specific directions. In "TRY YOUR OWN EXPERIMENT," learners design new experiments, investigating, for example, if one ear is as good as two in locating sound sources; how the size and shape of the external ear affects hearing; or whether other learners know how to take care of their hearing. This lesson plan includes background information, tips for educators and separate guides for educators and learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Sets of identical noise makers, such as pairs of wooden pencils or chopsticks, or “clickers" (available at novelty stores)
  • Blindfolds (to avoid the spread of germs, do not share blindfolds)
  • Diagram of locations of Listener and Noisemakers (see Procedures page 4)
  • Data charts for Pointer/Data Recorder (page 12)
  • Earplugs (found in drugstores-the small foam ones that fit inside the ear canal.)
  • Materials for making "animal ears" (construction paper, sheets or tubes of rubbery material, tape, glue, stapler, string, elastic tape or thread)
  • Sets of several layers of fabric for “word muffling” experiments
  • Tape recorder and blank tapes for sound intensity experiments (the tape recorder must have a calibrated volume control, for example, dots, lines or numbers on the dial or slider).
  • Ear model (optional)
  • Wall poster of the ear (optional)
  • Textbooks with diagrams of auditory pathways (optional)
  • Post-it notes numbered 1 through 8


  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Hearing
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
    • Number and Operations
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • hear
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Murray, Ph.D., Marjorie A.


  • All rights reserved, Eric H. Chudler, 2009