Grade Level
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12


Difficulty
Intermediate


Duration
1 hour 15 minutes

Subjects

Design & technology
Engineering
Music
Science
STEAM
Technology

Standards
  • Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.

  • Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.

  • – Asking Questions and Defining Problems
    – Developing and Using Models
    – Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
    – Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    – Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
    – Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    – Engaging in Argument from Evidence
    – Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Vocab

Soundwave
Amplifier
Amplification
Aesthetic

Author

Glowforge

Licensing

Lesson Handout

Overview

Soundwaves are all around us! In this activity, students explore how different materials can be used to amplify everything from a voice to a cell phone speaker. Students can customize the Retro Boombox Phone Amp design to accommodate their cell phone and make an amplifier that  looks and sounds great.

Objective

Thematic Questions:

  • How does sound travel? How might different materials impact amplification?
  • How can you redesign and customize the Retro Boombox Phone Amp to amplify your phone’s sound?
  • How can you customize a Retro Boombox Phone Amp to incorporate your customers’ aesthetic preferences and demand for a high-quality speaker?

Outcomes:

Students will…

  • Create a list of characteristics of soundwaves and how they travel.
  • Analyze a printed Retro Boombox Phone Amp and how their cell phone fits into the original design.
  • Develop a Retro Boombox Phone Amp design that accommodates their cell phone.
  • Customize and print their own Retro Boombox Phone Amp design.

Standards: 

ISTE Standards for Students 
  1. Innovative Designer– Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.
  2. Computational Thinker– Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
NGSS Science & Engineering Practices 
  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)

Supplies

  • 1x Plywood Medium 
  • 1x Acrylic Thick 
  • Glue
  • Materials for customizing the Retro Boombox Phone Amp (e.g., markers, stickers, pens, or paint)
  • Rulers or other measuring tools

Catalog Designs

Retro Boombox Phone Amp

Description

Lesson Outline:

Get Ready:

  1. Have students read through the activity details to familiarize themselves with the steps to complete the activity. 
  2. Gather all of the materials needed to print, assemble, and customize their Retro Boombox Phone Amps. 
  3. Consider having a pre-printed Retro Boombox Phone Amp for individuals or groups to test their cell phones in prior to customizing their own designs.

Production Time:

Print – 70 minutes

Assemble – 10 minutes

Rubric:

Use this optional rubric for student self-reflection or formative feedback throughout the Play It Loud activity.

Lesson Instructions

Section 1 – Plan:

Have students… 

  1. Work in groups or independently to add their prior knowledge about sound and how it travels to the first column of the Play It Loud handout. 
  2. Use resources like the Khan Academy video “Sound Properties: Amplitude, period, frequency, wavelength” or the Science World unit “Sound” to learn more about sound and how it travels. Add any discoveries from this exploration to the second column of the Play It Loud handout.
  3. Listen to music through the printed Retro Boombox Phone Amp. Update the third column of the Play It Loud handout with observations about:
    • Sound quality when music is played at different volumes;
    • How well the design accommodates their phone’s size; and,
    • Amplification and aesthetic details. 
  4. Use a ruler to measure their phone’s dimensions. Record this information on the Play It Loud handout. 

Section 2 – Customize and Create:

Have students… 

  1. Work independently or in groups to customize design plans for a Retro Boombox Phone Amp. Complete the All About My Phone section of the Play It Loud handout to help think through design elements like sound amplification, device fit, and aesthetics. 
  2. Consider how to customize the design by changing its dimensions, naming the mixtape, and engraving that name on the label.
  3. Think about what items and features should be included in the design. Consider how the Trace tool in the Glowforge app can be used to add personalization to the design. Also, consider how extra layers in the design may impact how the Retro Boombox Phone Amp supports different phones. 
  4. Use the space in the Play It Loud handout or the back of the handout to plan out additional designs which can be scanned into the Glowforge app using the Trace tool.

Section 3 – Use:

Ask students to…

  1. Create prototypes prior to doing final prints using cardboard for test prints. Just remember that if the design uses joinery such as slots or finger joints, these may need to be adjusted to suit the prototyping materials.
  2. Test the fit of their designs, and consider what changes need to be made to the Retro Boombox Phone Amp design. Add their ideas for changes in the final part of the All About My Phone section of the handout. Remember that the printing material could impact their design’s amplification. 
  3. Revise and iterate their designs in the Glowforge app based on their notes about necessary changes, and repeat steps as necessary.
  4. Showcase their Retro Boombox Phone Amps and play it loud!

Reflection Questions:

Help students consider…

  • How might we improve the sound amplification of the Retro Boombox Phone Amp?
  • How did the design and feedback process impact your original Retro Boombox Phone Amp design?

Pro Tips:

  • If your cell phone is thicker than ¾” or you like to keep it in a case, consider adding extra middle layers to achieve the correct thickness to support your device. Notice the tip in the “Before you print” section of the design in the Glowforge app. 
  • If creating prototypes prior to doing final prints, use cardboard for test prints. Just remember that if the design uses joinery such as slots or finger joints, these may need to be adjusted to suit the prototyping materials.

Reimagine:

  • How could several Retro Boombox Phone Amps be used to tell a story? Record an audio story or podcast. Create a QR code for the audio files. Attach the codes by using the Glowforge to print directly on the phone amp or attach a printed paper QR code with tape or glue. Listeners can scan the QR code and then play the audio through the Retro Boombox Phone Amp.
  • How might students customize the Retro Boombox Phone Amp design to represent their experience at school? Consider adding the logo for the school, an image of the school’s mascot, or an icon to represent a team or club. These customizations can enhance the value of a Retro Boombox Phone Amp as a fundraiser item.

Remix:

Have students…

  • Use the Glowforge app Trace tool to capture hand drawn designs and incorporate them into their Retro Boombox Phone Amp. How might students emphasize personalization to truly make the speaker feel like it represents them?
  • Further customize the Retro Boombox Phone Amp by using markers, paint, or pens to add artistic details. How can the use of color amplify the tone of the artistic design?
  • Pair this activity with a unit on sound waves or amplification for a hands-on demonstration of these concepts. Use different materials to print Retro Boombox Phone Amps. Consider using cardboard, acrylic, and draft board. How might design choices like material or distance impact how well the Retro Boombox Phone Amp plays audio from a cell phone?


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