Contrary to what Dad says after you explain how your bike ended up on the roof of the house, he hasn’t really “heard it all.” In fact, no one has heard it all. We people can hear only a certain range of sounds, or frequencies. Some animals, like bats, make sounds that are too high for us to hear, while others such as elephants make sounds too low for our ears to pick up. Meanwhile, whales hear so well that they can sing to each other over hundreds, even thousands of miles of water. Well, okay, they’re not actually singing, but their sounds have rhythm and melody similar to human music. Some people listen to whale songs just because they sound nice. But marine scientists try to eavesdrop on these underwater divas to understand their language. Or maybe they’re just trying to pick up some pointers for singing in the shower.
Wee ones: If a whale is singing a 9-minute song, and he has already sung for 3 minutes, how many more minutes are left in the song?
Little kids: Sound travels about 1 mile in 1 second underwater. About how long will it take a whale song to travel 10 miles? Bonus: Sound travels much slower through air than through water – only 1 mile every 5 seconds. How far would the song travel on land in the time it would travel 10 miles through water?
Big kids: Whale songs apparently string together repeated “themes,” which are 3 minutes long. If there are 3 themes in a particular whale song, each repeated 3 times, how long is the song? Bonus: With more ships traveling the oceans, it becomes harder for whales to hear each other. If a whale has to sing a 20-minute song over and over for 6 hours each day, 4 days in a row, how many times does she sing that same song?
Wee ones: 6 minutes remain in the song.
Little kids: It will take 10 seconds. Bonus: 2 miles.
Big kids: 27 minutes, since you have 3 themes x 3 minutes x 3 times around. Bonus: She sings the song 72 times, since she sings it 3 times per hour.