August 22, 2016

Acoustics videos by the Smithsonian's American Museum of Natural History

I only recently discovered that the American Museum of Natural History has a few videos on acoustics.  These videos are short and pretty good. They all have native captions in the videos, which is a great feature.

The above video shows off quite a few historical scientific devices for studying acoustics, but other than mentioning a wave machine, does not really discuss much about the specific devices. My question: how many examples of the devices shown are still being used in labs and classrooms around the world?

The second video in the series is about the concept of waves and the propagation of sound as a wave. Again, the video is short, but the science is solid.

The third video is all about tuning forks. I think the science here is a little less well done, although it is passable for introductory level acoustics.  That said, there's not a whole lot of interesting or relevant science being conveyed in this video. Some interesting history, but that's about it.

The fourth video is about Chladni's demonstration of mode shapes of vibrating plates. This video is really short.

The last video in the series is an introduction to the idea of resonance. Here, I think the science is not great. It's not exactly wrong, but there is no solid explanation or definition of resonance given which gives the impression that the examples cited are two distinct types of resonance. I think I would show this video to my class after our resonance discussion and ask them what they like and don't like about the video.

There are more videos, but they are all demonstrations of the artifacts shown in the above videos. See the playlist here:

Finally, if you want to see more about the devices shown in the videos, there is information on the museum's website.

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