The Physics of Sound

Thursday, 24. June 2021

The Ecole is delighted to welcome a new teacher to our team! Alessandro Viale joins the Ecole to teach Physics and Mathematics in the Swiss system. Alessandro is originally from Rome, where he studied Physics at the Sapienza University, and obtained a Masters in Piano, in Composition.

Alessandro brings an infectious enthusiasm for Physics to his students. In his teaching he is integrating academic and theoretical knowledge with practical experiences, so that students can truly embody the material.

In his class entitled The Physics of Sound, Alessandro is introducing his students to some complex ideas. The students are learning about how sound propagates in the air, the variations of pressure and the way it moves in waves.

The mathematical underpinnings of this subject are quite difficult, so Alessandro discovered that to make the subject comprehensible to young students, he needed to employ experiential teaching techniques to help students embody difficult physics concepts.

Using practical experiments, Alessandro helped his students truly visualize concepts in the physics of sound. Alessandro and his students hiked up a hill with our beloved gong to illustrate how sound travels over time.

Alessandro’s students have recently been spending time in our workshop building instruments. Students are able to see, feel, touch, and hear(!) principles they are exploring in class as they create their own instruments. They can see clearly how a longer piece of wood has a lower frequency than a shorter piece. As they build woodwind instruments, they discover how vibrations create different resonant frequencies.

The students then took their instruments into the lab to measure the spectrum of frequencies. They were able to identify the instruments’ bass tone and overtones using microphones, bringing to life concepts taught in class!

Not only are students learning physics principles, but they are also practicing important skills in meta learning! They are teaching themselves how to learn about the intersection of woodworking and physics. Together they are thinking, hypothesizing, and discovering skills that will serve them throughout their academic careers