January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Chiming Spoons

Posted: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Valerie Joyner

What better way to start the school year than with a science investigation?  It’s a great tool to set the tone for a year full of science and at the same time help students get to know each other.  One of my favorite first day of school science investigations is a sound wave activity I call “Chiming Spoons.”  It only requires a ball of string, a few items from your kitchen and/or classroom, and some simple preparation.  The end result will be a classroom full of enthusiastic young scientists who acquire a new understanding of sound.

Science background:  Sounds travels in waves.  These waves can travel through everything from air, water, and wood, to along a piece of string. When a piece of string is tied to a metal object like a spoon and struck, the spoon will send out vibrations (sound waves) that will move along the string.  If the string and the spoon are touched to your ears the vibrations that are made will travel up the string and into your ears. From your ears, nerves carry the message to your brain where it interprets the sound for you.

Objects made of different materials like stainless steel, wood, and plastic send out different vibrations (sound waves) and make different sound.

Materials you will need:

1 ball of string – 2 feet of string for every object

1 large metal spoon for demonstration

1 pencil for every pair of students

20+ objects from around the kitchen or classroom including but not limited to:

Stainless steel, silver, aluminum, and wooden spoons or forks of various sizes, metal cookie cooling rack,

coat hangers (plastic and metal),

wire whisk,


hand mixer beaters

any other metal objects from your classroom,

Several trays or tables to distribute objects with strings around the room

Pencil and paper for recording observations


  • Tie a large metal spoon in the middle of one piece of string (for demonstration)
  • Tie string to all additional objects (for student discovery)
  • Put some stringed objects on each tray and set aside


Explain to the students that they will be working with a partner to explore sound and how it travels. The first thing they will do is watch a pair of classmates demonstrate how the activity works, then they will work with a partner to make their own observations and discoveries.


Have a partner pair do the following steps.

1. Take a large metal spoon that has been tied in the center of the string.
2. Wrap each end of the string once or twice around the tip of each index finger and pinch the string.
3. Bring your fingers up to your ears as if you were plugging them.
4. Lean your body forward as shown. Make sure the string dangles freely and does not touch anything.
5. Have your partner gently tap the spoon once.
6. Observe the sound and share your observations with the class. (What did you hear?  What did it feel like?)



1. Distribute trays or objects around the room
2. Assign pairs of students to work together
3. Remind students of the procedure
4. Explain that they will draw a picture or write a description of one or more of the objects they try and what they observed (dependent on grade level).
5. Release student pairs to work on the activity and record their observations.
6. Help students who need assistance with the procedure.
7. Walk among the students to encourage investigation and record keeping.
8. When students have observed several objects have students put the objects down and get ready to discuss their observations with the class.

Science Discussion:

1. Gather the students together and ask them to share what they observed.
2. Encourage students to share comparisons of their objects, its size, material, and the sounds they made. For example: When we hit the large silver spoon it sounded like a bell, and when we hit the plastic spoon it made a clunking sound.
3. As students share out their observations and comparisons encourage them to form conclusions. For example: I noticed that all of the plastic objects did not make a ringing sound, and some of the metal objects did (stainless steel v/s aluminum spoons).
4. Record student shared information.
5. Check for understanding by reviewing the Science Background.

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science teacher and is the CSTA’s region 1 director.


Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is a member of CSTA.

One Response

  1. I done this for years in my Physical Science class. Always amazes the students that the sound is so loud. Good experiment for hands on understanding of mechanical waves.

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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.