The students in Robin Skulrak's 5th grade class at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, had some questions. The Noisy Planet team, sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), had visited their class to teach the students about the effects of noise-induced hearing loss and how to protect their hearing. Following the presentation, Ms. Skulrak's students started wondering about the noise levels in their school cafeteria.

Students sitting around eating and talking.

To satisfy their curiosity, the students measured and recorded the decibel levels of the cafeteria over a two-month period. What they found surprised them: the decibel level in the cafeteria could reach an average of 101 A-weighted decibels (dBA), equivalent to the noise of a lawnmower or tractor. Repeated or prolonged noise levels at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing damage.

"This project was a great example of cause and effect relationships. One of the important takeaways is the students realizing that their high decibel level in the cafeteria, which ranged from 98 to 103 dBA during 5th and 6th grade lunch time, can impact their hearing." said Ms. Skulrak. "We're now working on students lowering their voices at lunch time in order to protect their hearing."

The results of Ms. Skulrak's 5th grade class' experiment were on display at their school's science fair in March. The Noisy Planet team also came back for a visit, bringing the Noisy Planet tabletop display and Q&A wheel to the science fair. Nearly 100 guests stopped by to give the wheel a spin and learn how they should protect their hearing from various activities.

A big thanks and congratulations to Ms. Skulrak's class for hearing the Noisy Planet messages and working to educate their fellow students! Noisy Planet encourages other teachers and students to think of experiments to test the noise levels in their surroundings.

If you are in the Washington metro area and interested in having the Noisy Planet team present at your school, email us!

Be sure to check out our materials designed to help youth develop healthy hearing habits.

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