• Field Trip

    More than 250 interactive science, technology, energy and health exhibits await students of all ages.  We’re experts at making sure that bringing your group to the Museum is smooth sailing all the way. Discounted admission for groups of 20 or more!

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    Your students become scientists during our ScienceWorks Labs. All programs align with National Science Education Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and Common Core State Standards. Labs are available year-round for preschool to middle school students and are led by an instructor.

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    It's Science on Wheels: We bring the Museum to you!  We offer fun, inquiry-based programs for the students in your classroom, library, festival or youth center! All programs address objectives outlined in the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and include pre- and post-visit activities.

  • Distance Learning

    Our educators use videoconferencing to engage your students in a dynamic, hands-on learning experience. Program kits sent to classroom teachers include nearly everything you need for experiments. Kits are yours to keep! All programs address National Science Education Standards and align with Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations.

  • Teacher Workshops

    Join us for fast-paced, hands-on teacher workshops that provide elementary and middle school educators with new hands-on tools for incorporating interactive science and math activities into your classroom.  Join us for professional development opportunities both at the museum and at your school.

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    The best place for Scouts to explore STEAM! 

  • Summer Camp

    Through the Unity in Learning partnership, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Leslie Science & Nature Center, and Yankee Air Museum now offer families incredible day camps at two fantastic locations in Ann Arbor and Belleville.

  • Birthday Parties

    What do you get when you mix one part science, one part fun, and one part celebration? A birthday party at the Museum! Experience a birthday full of discovery by exploring more than 250 exhibits and experimenting with a hands-on activity. Celebrate in a unique and interactive environment to make your special day really special!

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    Want to dive deeply into specific topics? Join us for an Evening Workshop! Explore a variety of science concepts through hands-on activities, interactive demos, and experiments in a small group setting. Topics vary from stop-motion animation to computer programming to engineering – there’s sure to be something that piques your interest!

Back to Programs

WORKSHOP Physics of Light and Sound

Outreach Workshop: Physics of Light and Sound

All we see and hear come together as one in this workshop. Discover the similarities between sound and light.

Fees are determined by distance from the Museum:

  • Within 25 miles: $340
  • 26-50 miles: $370
  • 51+ miles: $370 + $.54 per mile
  • Each additional hour: $125

Register today!

Michigan K-12 Science Standards


Plan and conduct investigations to provide evidence that vibrating materials can make sound and that sound can make materials vibrate.


Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.


Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.


Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength and that waves can cause objects to move.


Develop a model to describe that light reflecting from objects and entering the eye allows objects to be seen.

Physics of Light and Sound Pre-visit Vocabulary

Absorb: To take in or become part of.

Energy: The capacity to do work.

Gas: A state of matter where the molecules are loosely packed, taking up the entire space of their container.

Liquid: A state of matter between solids and gasses where the molecules spread out to take the shape of the bottom of their container.

Molecule: The smallest particle of any substance that retains the same characteristics.

Reflect: To bounce off of, as from a mirror.

Refract: To pass through an object while changing direction and velocity.

Solid: A state of matter where all the molecules are tightly packed, resulting in a rigid shape.

States of Matter: The physical arrangement of molecules in a substance or object. There are three main states of matter.

Vacuum: Completely empty space.

Vibration: Rapid back-and-forth movement of molecules.

Physics of Light and Sound Post-visit Activity

Post-visit activities provide your students with an opportunity to review workshop-presented concepts and introduce related subjects. Below you will find a classroom extension activity and a list of suggested resources for further exploration. We hope that you enjoyed our Outreach Hands-On Workshop and we look forward to visiting your students again!

Hands-on Activity: How Fast Does Sound Travel?


  • A drumstick or pole (something to hit the object with)
  • A large outdoor space


  1. Bring the class, large drum (or noise-maker) and stick outside on playground or field.
  2. Teacher or student volunteer should move about the length of a football field away 100-120 yards with the noise maker of choice.
  3. Strike the object. Make your movement dramatic to ensure that the group is seeing your movement AND hearing the vibration of the noise maker.
  4. Students should write down observations then share.


Sound travels through air at about 340 meters per second. Light, however, travels at an astounding 300,000 meters per second. At close range, this is hardly noticeable. For instance, when you are standing close to your friend talking, you see their lips move at the same time that you hear them. As the distance increases, you begin to notice that there is a slight delay between the light and the sound. Picture lighting and thunder. First, you see a big flash of lighting in the sky. Then, you wait. Sometimes, it takes a long time for the sound to reach you. The further away the lighting actually is, the longer it’ll take for the sound to reach you.

Challenge your students to figure out some math. If somebody standing 340 meters away strikes a drum, how long does it take for the sound to reach you? The answer to this is easy: 1 second. Simply divide 340 by 340. Now, how long does it take for you to see it? To do this, you would have to divide 340 by 300,000 — about 1/1000th of a second!

Now, for more challenging problems:

  • If you hear thunder 5 seconds after you see lighting, how far away was the bolt?
  • If a bright light flashes out in space and takes 45 seconds to reach the earth, how far away is it?
  • If your friend strikes a drum 100 meters away, how long does it take you to hear it?

Suggested Resources


Glover, David. Sound and Light. Kingfisher Books. 2002.
Levine, Shar and Leslie Johnstone. Science Experiments with Sound & Music. Sterling. 2002.
Maton, Anthea. Prentice Hall Science: Sound and Light. Pearson Prentice Hall. 1997.
Trumbauer, Lisa. All About Light. Children’s Press (CT). 2004.


ZOOM activities
Science of Sound: Hands On Activities
Light Science Activities for Kids

WORKSHOP Physics of Light and Sound


Library, School

50 minutes



Physical Sciences

Still not sure we have the experience you want?

Visit unityinlearning.org to open a gateway to hands-on discovery, exploration of the natural world, and experiences that take flight.

Through the Unity in Learning partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands-On MuseumLeslie Science and Nature Center, and Yankee Air Museum we provide over 100 different  programs at our facilities, on site at your location, or through interactive video conferencing.