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I Can Hear With Super Ears


You and Your Students!

Script By

Vicki Cobb, Education World Science Editor


Use paper cups to improve your hearing.


Sound, Hearing, The Senses

Props Required

  • two 8-ounce paper cups for each student
  • scissors

Setting the Scene (Background)

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Sound from a vibrating object travels in all directions. The outer ears of animals and people “gather” sound waves and funnel them into the ear. Large ears collect sound better than small ones.

Stage Direction

Students will enjoy this activity and they will look adorable wearing their “super ears,” but the activity does take a bit of preparation. Older students can make their own ears, but an adult might need to cut the proper hole in the bottom of the paper cups for K-2 students. If you have parent volunteers, they can prepare “super ears” for the class.

The Plot

Act I
Have all students face in the same direction. Then have someone behind them whisper the words "Raise your hand if you can hear me." (Few hands will go up.) Next, have students hold up hands in front of them, palms facing them; then have them position their hands in front of their ears so their palms are facing behind them. Their cupped hands will collect sound coming from behind them. Have the whisperer repeat the phrase, "Raise your hand if you can hear me." A lot more hands should go up because the students' cupped hands collect more of the sound coming from behind them.

Act II
Make "super ears" by cutting holes in the bottom of the paper cups as shown in the diagram. Leave a small piece of the bottom of the cup so it will hook behind the ear. Each student should put a cup over each ear. They now have "super ears." Have the children listen quietly and see what sounds they now hear that they didn't hear before.

Super ears work even better if you cut an angled scoop off the front of the cups. More sounds are now funneled into the cups and their ears.

The End

Ask students to talk about animals' ears. Do they know of any animals that have large ears. Students might mention elephants or rabbits. Most bats have very large outer ears because they depend on collecting echoes. They send out high-pitched squeaks that bounce off an object and return to the bat's ears.

See more experiments with sound in Bangs and Twangs: Science Fun with Sound by Vicki Cobb, illustrated by Steve Haefele, The Millbrook Press, 2000.

Article By Vicki Cobb
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World