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Ear and Hearing

In this worksheet students will explore the structure of the ear, hearing loss and the threshold of hearing, soundproofing and echoes.

'Ear and Hearing' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Physics: Waves

Curriculum subtopic:  Sound Waves

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

The diagram shows the structure of the human ear. Here is how it works:

 

 

Sound waves travel through the air and enter the auditory (ear) canal. They make the ear drum vibrate. They then pass through the ear bones (shown as maleus, incus and stapes in the diagram) and reach the cochlea, which looks like the shell of a snail (and actually means snail in the Greek language!). In the cochlea they are changed into electrical energy (until now they were sound energy) and travel down the auditory nerve (which begins somewhere behind the cochlea) to the brain. These electrical signals are called impulses and we can hear the sound when they reach the brain.

 

The ear is very delicate, as it contains thin membranes and small bones, which can be easily damaged in the following waves:

1) The ear can get blocked by wax

2) Accidents or loud bangs can damage the ear drum

3) The middle ear can get infected

4) In older age the tiny bones can fuse together

5) The nerve cells in the cochlea can sometimes not work very well

6) Constant loud noise can affect the cochlea

 

Sound can sometimes be unleasant and it is called noise. A sound intensity meter can be used to measure the loudness of a sound in decibels (dB). In the decibel scale the threshold of hearing is the quietest sound we can hear. This is at 0dB. A road drill is at 90dB and it is the maximum limit accepted legally. A person shouting can be 100dB, whereas loud music is around 120dB. Sound starts to hurt at 80dB and the ear drum breaks at 180dB.

 

Houses near an airport or other loud areas need double glazed windows. The air is taken out from between the glass layers to create a vacuum, so sound has no particles to travel through. This is called soundproofing. Ear protectors are usually worn by workers if they work in a loud environment. Noise can be reduced by soft things like carpets and curtains, because they absorb some of the sound energy.

 

Echoes are reflected sounds. They are used by bats, which use their hearing instead of sight to hunt. The bats send out high-pitched squeaks which we can't hear. The echoes tell the bat if something is in the way and they catch it. They also use echolocation to avoid obstacles.

 

Sounds that are too high for humans are called ultrasound. Ultrasound has many medical uses as it is safer to use than X-rays. For example, it is used to check the progress of an unborn baby. An ultrasound transmitter is passed over the mother's body. Different parts of the baby's body send back different echoes. These reflections of sound are processed by a computer into an image and that is displayed on a screen.

 

Sonar equipment is used by submarines to find other ships. They send out a pulse sound (a 'ping') and calculate the distance using computers by measuring the time the echo takes to return. Fishing boats use similar systems to find shoals of fish.

In what form does sound travel into the ear?

electronic waves

sound waves

ultrasound

What is the first part of the ear that sound waves enter?

outer ear

ear canal

cochlea

What is the part of the ear that picks up sound after the ear canal?

pinna

cochlea

ear drum

What happens to the ear drum when sound reaches it?

it vibrates

it shrinks

it explodes

Where does sound go to after the ear drum?

ear canal

ear bones

outer ear

What happens to sound energy in the cochlea?

It is changed into electrical energy.

It is absorbed and lost.

It is absorbed and we can hear the sound.

What happens to sound after the cochlea?

It travels through the auditory nerve back out of the ear.

It travels along the auditory nerve to the brain.

It travels through the ear canal to the brain.

Select three things that can cause hearing loss.

the ear gets blocked by wax

the ear drum can fall out

the middle ear can get infected

loud noise can affect the cochlea

in younger people, the ear bones can fuse together

In the answer box below, write just the number which fills in the gap in this sentence:

 

The quietest sound we can hear is called the threshold of hearing and is ___ dB.

In the answer box below, write the word which completes this sentence:

 

Double glazing, ear protectors and soft absorbing materials are all types of _______________.

What is an echo?

a reflected sound

an annoying noise

an ultrasound

  • Question 1

In what form does sound travel into the ear?

CORRECT ANSWER
sound waves
EDDIE SAYS
Sound always travels as sound waves.
  • Question 2

What is the first part of the ear that sound waves enter?

CORRECT ANSWER
ear canal
EDDIE SAYS
It is called the ear or auditory canal.
  • Question 3

What is the part of the ear that picks up sound after the ear canal?

CORRECT ANSWER
ear drum
EDDIE SAYS
Sound reaches the ear drum after travelling through the ear canal.
  • Question 4

What happens to the ear drum when sound reaches it?

CORRECT ANSWER
it vibrates
EDDIE SAYS
Sound causes almost everything to vibrate.
  • Question 5

Where does sound go to after the ear drum?

CORRECT ANSWER
ear bones
EDDIE SAYS
Sound reaches the three tiny ear bones after the ear drum.
  • Question 6

What happens to sound energy in the cochlea?

CORRECT ANSWER
It is changed into electrical energy.
EDDIE SAYS
In the cochlea sound energy is changed into electrical energy and we can only hear sound when the electrical impulses reach the brain.
  • Question 7

What happens to sound after the cochlea?

CORRECT ANSWER
It travels along the auditory nerve to the brain.
EDDIE SAYS
After it is changed into electrical energy, sound travels in the form of impulses to the brain along the auditory nerve, so we can hear it.
  • Question 8

Select three things that can cause hearing loss.

CORRECT ANSWER
the ear gets blocked by wax
the middle ear can get infected
loud noise can affect the cochlea
EDDIE SAYS
Wax, instant or continuous loud noises, infections and older age can affect hearing by damaging different parts of the brain.
  • Question 9

In the answer box below, write just the number which fills in the gap in this sentence:

 

The quietest sound we can hear is called the threshold of hearing and is ___ dB.

CORRECT ANSWER
0
EDDIE SAYS
The threshold of hearing is 0 dB.
  • Question 10

In the answer box below, write the word which completes this sentence:

 

Double glazing, ear protectors and soft absorbing materials are all types of _______________.

CORRECT ANSWER
soundproofing
sound proofing
EDDIE SAYS
Soundproofing methods such as ear protectors, soft materials and double glazed windows are used to protect us from loud noises.
  • Question 11

What is an echo?

CORRECT ANSWER
a reflected sound
EDDIE SAYS
Reflected sounds are called echoes.
---- OR ----

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