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This project will get your kids to listen - maybe not to you, but to the world around them

Ear on side of head
to learn

This animal is not on exhibit in the habitats. It is one of our Animal Ambassadors and is used in public and school programs.

Sound waves are everywhere, giving us information about the world around us. But our brains do a fantastic job of ignoring mundane sounds, often times not giving us a full picture of our surroundings. Which is why your child may not always hear you when you ask them to clean their room.

This simple activity will help your child concentrate on sounds that shape their environment. By closing their eyes, they may hear birds they never heard before, the faint sound of a freeway nearby, or even your voice asking them to pick up their socks. Yay, science!


  • Piece of paper (one for each participant)
  • Pencil or pen
  • Compass (optional)


  1. Go somewhere you’d like to better understand by listening – in your house, backyard, a park – anywhere!
  2. When you’ve found your spot, put a mark in the center of your paper. Your mark can be an “X,” a dot, or even a drawing of yourself. This mark represents you. The blank space around your mark represents your surroundings.
  3. If you’d like, use a compass to mark North, East, South and West on your map.
  4. Close your eyes and listen for any sounds.
  5. When you hear a sound, notice the direction the sound is coming from. Is the sound moving or is it still?
  6. Mark the sound on your paper in the direction you heard it. If the sound came from your right, put a mark on the right side of your paper. Draw or write what sounds you heard to help you remember later.
  7. Continue listening and filling your paper with all the sounds you heard.
  8. Review your map. If doing this experiment with friends, it’s always fun to share your data.


  • Are there more human or nature sounds? Why do you think that is?
  • What new sounds did you hear?
  • How might certain sound effect behaviors in people or animals?
  • What sounds surprised you?


We hear sound through waves which enter our ears. These vibrations turn into signals which your brain interprets into the sounds we hear every day. Luckily, our brains can filter out unimportant sounds. If we stop, close our eyes and listen, a whole new world will be revealed to us. One can pick up the subtleties of their environment and learn about the areas they live, work, and play in just by listening.


Skills: Observation, Patience

Themes: Sound and Environments



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1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo, CA 94401
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CuriOdyssey is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, Tax ID 94-1262434

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ASTC Member. Association of Science and Technology Centers.
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