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In the Whistling Gases Chemical Demonstration Kit, three balloons are filled with separate gases of differing densities, clamped off and attached to separate whistles.

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A whistle is a “wind” instrument that can only make one note, right? Students will be intrigued as you produce a symphony of sounds with a single whistle. Sound waves travel faster in less dense gases and therefore produce higher frequency (pitch) sound. In this demonstration, three balloons are filled with separate gases of differing densities, clamped off and attached to separate whistles. Release the clamps on the balloons one by one and listen to the startlingly wide range of pitches emitted by the simple whistle. Teacher Demonstration notes, reproducible student worksheets and all the specialized materials are included.

Concepts: Density of gases, speed of sound, pitch.
Time Required: 20 minutes
Note: Sources of gases are required but not provided.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS4.A: Wave Properties
MS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
HS-PS4.A: Wave Properties

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns
Structure and function

Performance Expectations

MS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.