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Chladni Plate Acoustics Experiments Awes Pupil

The acoustic demonstration of Chladni’s plate is a meeting point of two worlds: material and non-material: the unseen vibration of a sound wave shapes its own visible pattern. Experiencing such phenomenon, Waldorf pupils are led into the realm of Physics.

Lower School pupils have their first acquaintance with Physics in Class 6. The teaching does not start from theories or models. The Middle School science curriculum attempts to provide a rich experience of physical phenomena upon which the Upper School can conceptually build.


Fine sand is sprinkled on a metal Chadni Plate. Using a violin bow, some skill and luck the plate can induce pure notes at different frequencies to form a series of patterns. “After the tone dies out, the pattern on the plate remains and can be admired and studied. Yet this is a post-mortem, one is looking at a corpse. The living drama unrolls when the sounding tone, as a dance master, conducts the dancing particles to their places in splendid choreography,’ notes the Waldorf Library source.

Sometimes one may produce a note with wavering pitch. It is then as if two or more dance masters were giving conflicting orders. There is a struggle between the forms, they change back and forth, and one waits with bated breath to see which will win.”


The suddenness of this fascinating acoustic experiment is a never-ending source of wonder for the children. Involuntary ‘Wows’ and surprised ‘How?’ erupt in Monday’s Physics Main Lesson, as the grains of sand suddenly arrange themselves in a sharply defined, symmetrical pattern; intricate and beautiful order created from chaos with one stroke. “I couldn’t even draw a circle that perfect,’ one pupil exclaimed in reverence.


“You’d have me doing this for the whole lesson,” Teacher Mrs Ford joked with the children. A chorused ‘Yes!’ echoed back, as the pupils craned their necks and stood tiptoed on chairs so as not to miss a single pattern.



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Chladni Plate Acoustics Experiments Awe Pupils

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