Assembly point - A purposeful din

3rd April 2009 at 01:00
Children are the second biggest creators of noise, so sound them out about how hearing works in this assembly

With Noise Action Week approaching next month, why not get pupils to think about how much they make with a series of assemblies?

Last year the organisers of Noise Action Week commissioned a survey by Ipsos Mori, which found that children were seen as the second biggest creators of nuisance noise, along with fireworks and car or burglar alarms. The only things noisier were cars and motorbikes.

No teacher needs telling how much noise children can make. But how can they learn to make the right noise at the right time?

Noise Action Week encourages people to think about the noise that most bothers them and what can be done to reduce it. The website www.noiseactionweek.org.uk has free leaflets and posters, a decibel level chart and a list of facts and figures. For example, did you know the word noise comes from the Latin word "nausea", meaning sickness, and in a curious coincidence, a 2007 survey voted the sound of vomiting the most disgusting noise?

Before your assembly, prepare a wide roll of paper to run taut between two poles and find a large drumming stick. Open with mp3 files from Noise Action Week's website and ask for guesses as to what is making each sound. Next, talk about how important our ears are to us as a source of information before asking "Does anyone know how hearing works?"

Two children could go to the front, the first to tap the paper to symbolise noise at a reasonable level. The second child could smash through it. The assembly could turn into a question and answer session about what could make this happen.

Use decibel level charts to illustrate the discussion. Or try a PowerPoint presentation with concealed numbers or missing words to make the assembly interactive, by asking pupils to guess how much noise different things make. Slides of a drill, a hoover and a washing machine could reinforce the message that, although each activity is worthwhile, we should consider when noise is appropriate.

Open Noise Action Week into the wider curriculum. Record the noise levels around school. Maths, ICT and science could be used for a presentation of tables, charts and maps with the survey results. Warn your colleagues. You could even lend a child a digital camera to record noise on their way to school. In assembly, share artwork of images inspired by the photos.

And then, if you dare, end with a shout off between the year groups. But be aware, shouting and arguments (9 per cent) were seen in the survey as more annoying than aeroplanes or noise from pets (8 per cent).

Noise Action Week runs from May 18-22. For more details and teaching materials visit www.noiseactionweek.org.uk.

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