1. Erin Ottmar
  2. https://sites.google.com/site/erinottmar/
  3. Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Technology
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. V.J. Manzo
  2. http://www.vjmanzo.com
  3. Assistant Professor of Music Technology
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Michael Timko
  2. https://www.wpi.edu/people/faculty/mttimko
  3. Assistant Professsor
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

What's This? Just Listen: Using Sonification to Reveal Hidden Scientific Data

NSF Awards: 1342320

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Undergraduate, Graduate, Adult learners, Informal / multi-age

We are constantly surrounded by invisible things. Though we can see objects, hear sounds, and touch matter, our senses are limited in what they can reveal. What lies beyond surface-level features can be difficult to conceptualize without proper technology that can uncover the invisible and abstract structures. This video What’s This? Just Listen! introduces a new technology genre of sonified instruction that provides an engaging learning experience that not only allows students to realize the abstractness of the “invisible”, by directly mapping auditory and visual representations of data generated from real world objects, while listening to sonified music of those representations in real time. We use sonification to map abstract and visual patterns and structures of data into musical motives and forms that correlate to context-specific trends and patterns within the observed data. Data representing the chemical composition of everyday objects will be the focus of this video. Raman spectrometry can show us that everyday objects are made out of different combinations of molecules and atoms. In this video, we will demonstrate how we can literally hear the molecular structure of cellulose and other objects as a musical composition. Our framework for this project is deeply rooted in research building on embodied cognition, multimodal learning theory, and science education with interdisciplinary elements that draw from music and arts-infused education.We aim to equip the education and research communities with a novel pedagogical tool that exposes abstract STEM concepts to K-12 students and other public audiences in engaging and interactive ways.

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