PROJECT BASED LEARNING OF ACOUSTIC CONCEPTS
Understanding acoustic concepts, such as resonant systems, frequency spectrum, sound pressure levels, transients, psychoacoustic parameters, acoustic impedance, etc is important in Music Acoustics and other branches of Physics and Engineering. However, acoustic concepts are considered difficult to learn since familiarity with advanced mathematical tools such as Fourier transform (or even Laplace and Hilbert transforms) are required. Here, we analyse and describe a novel learning environment design, the problem-solving lab, for learning acoustic concepts. Standing waves may be set up in the air column enclosed within a tube, in a similar manner to the waves on a string. In this case the waves are in the form of compressions and rarefactions moving down the tube, i.e. the waves are longitudinal, rather than the transverse as in the case of the string. Systems such as strings fixed at both ends and air columns which have certain definite frequencies at which they will vibrate are known as resonant systems. In the case of a musical tube standing wave patterns are formed at certain resonant frequencies. A frequency spectrum for a note on a musical tube can tell us a great deal about the playing characteristics of an instrument. The informatics tools and device for acoustic measurements are designed by two undergraduate students, future engineers, in the context of a project-based learning of the “Aula Iberdrola” of the Faculty of Engineering of Bilbao. The obtained final product is an easy graphic interface that is focused on the utilisation by a non-specialized acoustician. This project based learning merges problem-solving classes and labs, allowing students to engage in deep learning through the integrated use of tools like paper and pencil, MATLAB®, and experiments. We describe critical features for learning physics concepts, and ways to facilitate the establishment of links between the models and events for students. We contend that an integrated use of tools, and systematic use of informatics packages, is crucial for learning and establishing these links.