App Description: Sound Uncovered is a free interactive app developed by the Exploratorium that has various activities related to auditory illusions. The app has videos, articles and various interactive activities on how our brain responds to sound. Some of the activities are guessing a sound, checking how one’s ability to hear high frequency sounds, playing a recorded sound backward etc.
How We Use It: At the Children’s Museum of Houston we use the Sound Uncovered and Color Uncovered apps in Think Tank, which is our gallery for brain benders, optical and auditory illusions. We use the ‘What’s making This Sound?’ activity in the Sound Uncovered app with the Whisper Tubes in the gallery to test hearing abilities. The facilitators place the iPad on one end of the tube to play the sound. The visitors hear the sound from the other end of the tube and guess what it is. Most of the visitors have not yet guessed that the sound is made by sand dunes instead they say it’s a helicopter or a buzzing bee. They are always amazed to discover that the sound is made by sand dunes. We also use this activity in EcoStation to test hearing abilities needed to hear different bird sounds as well as to explain how many things in nature such as rocks, sand dunes and stalactites can create music. In addition, our facilitators use some of the other activities on the app such as ‘How old are your ears?’ to check who can hear the faintest sound and ‘Find the highest note’ or ‘Which car would you buy?’ in the Thinking room for some quiet critical thinking time with tour groups as an end-of-the-tour activity.
Furthermore, every activity in the app has a concise explanation “What’s going on?” or “Show me more” to further explain the activity. This helps our facilitators get a quick reference to explain the auditory illusions and how our brain reacts to them.