Developed by W. K. Adams

Students explore the speed of sound by experiencing the delay for sound to reach them when they know a noise has been made. They will explore what it feels like to identify objects from a distance.

Science Topics

Speed of sound

Process Skills

Scientific inquiry

Grade Level







30 minutes


5 minutes

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:
• Describe the limits of the size and distance that humans can locate visually
• Describe the limits of the size and distance that dolphins and bats can echolocate

Materials not in Kit

Additional supervision*
A large open space

*Since students will be outside and spread out, you might want to have extra supervision.

Introduce the Activity

Explain that the class will be going outside for the remainder of the activity. You should also identify any safety concerns that may exist.

Fish Finding Game

  1. Groups of 8-10 students will work together for this activity. One student will be a dolphin, 3 will be fish, and the rest will be objects
    • The dolphin must keep their eyes closed the whole time.
    • Objects are to lay, sit or stand in one place.
    • Fish move around slowly, winding in and out of objects.
  2. The dolphin tries to locate fish while avoiding objects
    • The dolphin makes a sound, “beep,” and any object or fish in front of the dolphin is required to respond.
      →Objects will say, “object”
      →Fish will say, “fish”
    • When a Fish is tagged, that fish becomes a dolphin, and the dolphin becomes a fish.
    • NOTE: If the dolphin is having trouble locating fish, or if the fish are misbehaving, have the fish move one step per beep or have them stand still.
  3. After playing the game, students should answer questions 7 and 8.

Key Lesson Terminology

Echoes – reflections or repetitions of sound waves. Echoes can be produced and heard by clapping hands or shouting in a large empty room with hard walls or in a cave for example.

Echolocation – a method used to detect objects by producing a specific sound and listening for its echo.

Speed of Sound – the speed at which sound travels. This is very important for scientists who study sound. In air, sound travels 343 meters in 1 second (747 miles per hour), but in water, sound travels 1500 meters in 1 second (3350 miles per hour). compare these speeds to cars traveling on the highway at 65 miles per hour.

SONAR – Sound Navigation And Ranging, is the process of listening to specific sounds to determine where objects are located.


Optional Extensions

If there is extra time, students can switch roles in the Fish finding game and play from a new perspective.