Are You Ready to SOCK?

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Interactions - SPS Chapters in Action

Are You Ready to SOCK?

Request your 2020-21 SPS Science Outreach Catalyst Kit Today!


Holly Fortener, SPS SOCK Intern 2020, Class of 2020 at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI

Marquette University

What is sound? What are waves? How do we hear sound? We all have many questions when it comes to learning about sound physics and acoustics, and that's where the 2020-21 SOCK has you covered!

The SOCK, an annual product of SPS, is created over the course of a summer by a SOCK intern as a free resource for SPS chapters. It is a kit filled with materials used to conduct physics and astronomy activities for science outreach events.

To honor the international year of sound (2019), the 2020-21 SOCK includes acoustics themed activities. With added support from the Acoustical Society of America, 2020-21 SOCK production increased from the usual 100 kit count to 200 kits that will be available to both SPS and ASA chapters!

The 2020-21 SOCK explores he field of acoustic using a portable oscilloscope, handheld microphone, slinky, and tuning fork! During the portable oscilloscope and microphone demonstration, students will be able to speak into a handheld microphone (above) and visualize sound signals on the oscilloscope. Older participants have the option to learn more about microphone functionality and how they are transducers that convert pressure/sound waves into electrical signals. The slinky and tuning fork demonstartion highlights the differences between transverse and longitudinal waves, and which category sound waves fall into.

In additional to more physical materials, the 2020-21 SOCK also calls upon software such as Audacity to record sounds and display soundwaves and spectrograms. Utilizing the Audacity software allows participants to learn more about sound waves and and how sound is made up of multiple frequencies to create harmonics.

This summer the 2020-21 SOCK intern worked closely with members of the ASA to create helpful sound diagrams and gather interesting soundscapes. While the sound diagrams helped to answer questions like, "what is sound?", "what are waves?", and "how do we hear sound?", an additional activity was created to pair with the soundscapes! As participants listen to the soundscapes, they will learn how sounds are helpful in characterizing a place.

Although the 2020 SPS internships were held remotely, the SOCK intern was successful in creating an insightful and engaging SOCK for all ages! The SOCK activites are very adaptable to demonstrate virtaully, or at home.

For the 2020-21 school year, the 200 SOCKs will be available for free to both SPS and ASA chapters. Your chapter can apply for a 2020-21 SOCK here. If your chapter is not one of the lucky 200, don’t worry. All supplementary components—the manual, worksheets, and list of necessary materials—are available on the SPS website. You can assemble your very own! //


Request a free 2020-21 SOCK and browse SOCKs from previous years here. Read the blogs Holly Fortener kept about their experiences here.


SPS has internship positions each summer in outreach, education, policy, and research. See details here. Applications are due February 1.

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