Mathalicious: Siren Song

Does the same sound always sound the same?

It’s hard not to stop what you’re doing and watch when a fire truck comes barreling down the road with its sirens blaring. But once the truck passes, something strange occurs: the sound of the siren changes pitch. Why is that?

In this lesson, students come up with equations in several variables to explore the Doppler Effect, which explains how sound from a moving object gets distorted. Along the way, they’ll explore the relationship between the wavelength, frequency, and pitch of a sound, and will also explore what happens when an object breaks the sound barrier.


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Algebra & Pre-Algebra
High School

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