The Effect of Materials on Sound Reflection

Student: Saeed Tamboli
Table: 102
Experimentation location: Home
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): No

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The purpose of this project was to replicate the effects of cupping one’s ear. In order to replicate that scenario the experimenter devised an experiment with cups (473.18 mL & 266.16 oz), to replicate the effect of cupping your ear, and frames (At 90 & 180 degrees), to replicate the effect of tilting your ear to the sound source. The experimenter compared the results of these levels to the control, which was having nothing reflected sound around the cup. The way the experimenter measured these levels was through a decibel meter, which gave a decibel reading that they used in their results. Before the experimenter ran their experiment, they predicted that the 16oz cup would have a higher decibel reading than the frames and the 9oz cup. And that prediction was right; additionally, all the results were notably higher than the control. However, the results would be more accurate if the experimenter was able, in the future, to take their experiment and perform it in Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota because then they can take out the variable of noise fluctuation.


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Research Plan:


Title: The Effect of Different Materials on sound reflection


Question: Does the decibel reading change form covering the microphone with a cup compared to putting 2 frames of plastic behind the microphone


Hypothesis: If one cups a decibel meter with a 473.18 mL cup then the reading on the decibel meter would be higher than a frame of plastic cups or the decibel meter having nothing touching it


Materials: Decibel meter, Paper cups, MacBook Pro 2016, Ruler, Protractor, Popsicle sticks




  1. Build the frame.
  1. Get 4 popsicle sticks that are 11.43 cm x 9.525 cm
  2. Arrange the popsicle sticks in a square
  3. Hot glue the popsicle sticks together
  4. Cut a paper cup so it’s in a sheet
  5. Hot glue the paper cup sheet on to the surrounding popsicle sticks
  6. Then put hot glue on a popsicle stick, that is layed down, and attach the rest of the frame, thus making a stand
  7. Make 2 frames (repeat each of these steps)

       2. Testing 

  1. Get a computer
  2. Make sure its at 4 clicks/bars on a MacBook (voice level)
  3. Place the frame 45 centimeters or 0.45 meters in front of the computer
  4. Place the decibel meter 2.54 cm in front of the frame.
  5. Adjust the frame at 45 degrees such that the angle is facing the computer and one half of the frame is on either side of the microphone.
  6. Play the sound from the mac book (
  7. Take the measurements from 0:27 - 0:40
  8.  Repeat steps 2 c-g three times in total
  9. Repeat steps 2 c-h using an angle of  90 degrees 
  10. Repeat steps 2 c-h using an angle of  180 degrees 


  1. Testing Part II
    1. Remove the frame from the set up used in Part 2.
    2. Keep the computer settings the same.
    3. Place a 9 oz cup on the microphone of the decibel meter such that it is covering it entirely
    4. Play the sound from the mac book (
    5. Take the measurements from  0:27 - 0:40 
    6. Repeat steps 3 a-e three times in total
    7. Repeat steps 3 a-f using a 16 oz cup.


Data Analysis: Decibel reading will be recorded by a decibel reader. The mean decibel reading will be recorded, readings are taken every time the reading on the decibel meter changes (dB). A Bar graph with the different levels on the x-axis and the decibel reading on the y-axis.


Risk Analysis: None


Works Cited

Bologna, Caroline. “This Is The Actual Reason Seashells Sound Like The Ocean.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 13 July 2018,

government, unknown. “Journey of Sound to the Brain Video.” National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 21 Nov. 2018, “Sound.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 27 Jan. 2020,

Sharp, Kevin. “Don't Cover Your Ears.” Don't Cover Your Ears, 2017,

“Why Do I Hear a Deep Rumble When I Cover My Ears?” Edited by Kevin Kostlan, Physics Stack Exchange, 1 May 1965,

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