Cover: Clang! Ernst Chladni's Sound Experiments | Great Science Experiments book for kids. | Mims HouseClang! Ernst Chladni’s Sound Experiments has just been named a 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teacher’s Association! See the full list here.

national science teachers association outstanding trade book sealHere’s what the NSTA says about the CLANG!:

A sound representation of sound! Takes the, sometimes hard to grasp, concept of sound and sound waves and makes it fun to learn.

Historical Accuracy of Clang!

The book is about German scientist Ernst Chladni (KLOD-nee) being presented to Emperor Napoleon. We have a historical record of Chladni’s visit. He wrote about the event for a German music magazine, which is quoted verbatim in his biography. The event was important for Chladni, because he was looking for financial backing to rewrite his book about acoustics, or the study of sound. Napoleon did finance a translation of his German book into French, and while translating it, Chladni updated it.

Science of Sound in Clang!

It’s great that the NSTA recognizes that the book makes the subject of sound and sound waves easy and fun for kids. My master’s degree is in Audiology, or the study of sound. Audiologists test hearing, fit hearing aids and other duties related to hearing and hearing loss. Sound is what I studied in college.

It was interesting to take a subject that I know well and make it fun for kids. For example, the different musical instruments make sound in different ways:

  • Piano – vibrating wires
  • Clavicylinder (Chladni’s invention) – vibrating glass, a solid
  • Pipe organ – vibrating column of air
  • guitar – vibrating wires/strings
  • Brass plate – vibrating solid

This video demonstrates Chladni’s experiment with modern equipment.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

This video shows a home-made version of the experiment which should be easy to replicate in your classroom. Start at about the 4:00 minute mark:

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Companion Book, Outstanding Science Trade Book: Nothing Stopped Sophie

Amazingly, another 2019 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book is related to CLANG! Ernst Chladni freely admitted to Napoleon that he didn’t understand the math behind the sound experiments. Napoleon offered another cash prize of 3000 francs to any mathematician who could write the acoustic formula. Eventually, it was won by Sophie Germain, the first woman to win a prize fromt he Paris Academy of Sciences. That story is told in Cheryl Bardoe’s book, Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain.
Nothing Stopped Sophie, companion book for CLANG! |

These would make great companion books as you study sound and talk about the math of sound.

A Versatile Scientist

One of the more interesting things about Ernst Chladni is that he’s known as the father of two branches of science. He’s the Father of Acoustics, as detailed in the book. His sound experiments, though, took him around Europe, and as he traveled, he became interested in strange rocks. The rocks were meteorites, and Chladni was the first person to suggest that meteorites came from outer space. He’s also known as the Father of Meteoritics.

ORDER eBooks here on the Mims House website. Or order from your favorite online distributor or educational distributor (Follett, Mackin, Child’s Plus, Permabound, Overdrive and so on.)

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