Science - Get with the beat

5th October 2012 at 01:00

What it's all about

It has played host to more than 150,000 different events and is affectionately known as "the nation's village hall". But never in its colourful history has the Royal Albert Hall suggested that an audience wear earplugs, writes Alessio Bernardelli.

Next month youthful spectators will be invited to insert earplugs during the performance of a unique science lesson, "What is Sound?". In this 15- minute session, musicians will demonstrate the properties of sound waves, live from the Elgar Room to secondary schools around the country via Facebook and the TES website.

Presented by broadcasters Dr Yan Wong and Dallas Campbell (from BBC One's Bang Goes the Theory), the aim is to enthuse children around the world about the arts and sciences.

The lesson will begin with a bang, demonstrating the expansion and compression of air caused by the single beat of a drum. But the beat rate will soon increase and the audience will be invited to try to follow the beat with claps. As the frequency of the beat increases, the clapping will merge into applause. The sound waves will be shown on a sound wave monitor, or oscilloscope.

The lesson will go on to show how a singer's vocal cords work in a similar way and how a synthesised sound can vibrate the strings of a double bass if you hit the right frequencies. In the grand finale, a sheet of glass will be shattered using sound alone (enter the earplugs).

The science lesson will be broadcast live online from 2pm on 11 October. For details, go to

What else?

Visit for resources and to watch TES partner Royal Albert Hall's live science lesson.

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