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About Sound Matters - Page 1 (next)

Introduction

Sound Matters is a collaborative project aiming to promote engineering, using a network consisting of two Universities (Salford and Southampton) and top science communicators in the UK. The results of this project work will be in evidence in a variety of community arenas, such as schools, science festivals, museums and local institutions.

Sound influences many aspects of our daily lives and is one of our primary means of communication. Its fundamental importance to us means that there are a wide range of active research areas linked to sound. For example, research into environmental noise pollution is currently a hot topic in the news, but there are also projects approaching the issue from a more positive angle, i.e. building design for a better quality of life. Ultrasound has many medical and industrial uses, such as looking at blood flows. Thus by choosing sound as our theme for the project, we are in a position to connect with people and their everyday experiences.

Acoustical engineering is concerned with the production, transmission, manipulation and reception of sound, from unwanted industrial noise to beautiful music. Acoustics embodies both the physical properties of sound waves and the mechanisms that generate them, and the psychological and physiological reaction of humans. Given the importance of perception to acoustics, it is possible to engage the public by getting them to participate in the experimental process.

Acoustics naturally cuts across traditional discipline boundaries, which opens up opportunities for public communication work. For example, the project links acoustic engineering to music and the arts, giving a way of engaging people by drawing on their interests outside science and engineering.

Sound also features in the national curriculum at Key Stages 1-4 and on science curricula at AS/A level. A majority of the project's activities are aimed at the 8-19 year old age group. This age group is of particular interest because:

(i) it contains vital age groups where disengagement from science and engineering occurs

(ii) it is important to counter the dropping of science and maths for post 16-education, as these subjects must be studied if pupils are to progress to engineering careers.

Experience of previous engagement work with acoustics has shown, however, that many of the activities will be easily adaptable for a wider market.

Objectives

The overall objectives of the 'Sound Matters' project are therefore:

1. To encourage school pupils to pursue science and maths to a higher level at school and therefore encourage them to take HE engineering qualifications and follow engineering careers.
2. To give positive role models for engineers and to show that engineering can be fun, creative and artistic.
3. To raise the profile of contemporary acoustic research and show how this can be used to solve engineering problems.
4. To get people to participate in experiments and so to better understand scientific methodology.
5. To allow an interaction with various public audiences to inform future research activities.
6. To promote the spread of public engagement skills through the two leading centres for acoustics research in the UK.

You can find out more about the activities by clicking on the links on the left.