I Can Hear Clearly Now

Hear Clearly

PHOTO © D13

While kids frequently leave you with the impression that they don’t notice anything that isn’t on their smart phone or screeching at them from a television set, that isn’t necessarily so. Sometimes even seemingly subtle changes can produce profound differences and, ultimately, recognition from usually oblivious youth.

Take a roomful of sixth graders at the Robert E. Lamberton Public School in Philadelphia. Dr. Kenneth Roy, senior principal research scientist at Armstrong Ceiling Systems, conducted a test at the school involving the acoustics in that sixth grade classroom. The class was videotaped; however, the teacher was the only one in the room told the reason for doing so.

Prior to making any changes in the room, Dr. Roy took sound measurements in the classroom. The existing classroom ceiling consisted of one-half inch thickness of fiberglass insulation sprayed over plaster. The reverberation rate of sound in the room, he discovered, was up to 1.3 seconds, far exceeding classroom acoustic (ANSI S12.60) standards. The sound was, quite literally, bouncing off the ceiling and walls.

Taking advantage of a long weekend, Armstrong installed a suspended acoustic panel ceiling in the classroom. New ceilings also were installed in the school’s cafeteria and the principal’s office.

When the sixth grade students returned to class, new sound measurements were taken. This time, the classroom met the ANSI standard for sound reverberation of 0.60 seconds.

The teacher indicated there appeared to be less fidgeting and talking during lessons. Her students seemed to be paying more attention. What was even more interesting was the reaction of the students. When asked if they’d noticed any changes, there was an immediate response — they noticed the improvement in the sound levels. Several also commented that the room was a lot brighter, and yet another student, who sat in the back of the room, said “I can hear (my teacher) a lot better today.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

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