Illuminated Drums

BY Megan Anthony

Nauset Regional Middle School

Project Description

The goal of Illumination Sound is to incorporate STEM activities into the music classroom and performances. Music students are often gifted in many ways, and this will allow them to showcase their science and technology skills that are supported by learning music. Students will design sensors that create a visual representation of sound produced by a drum. Each drum stroke creates a different sound based on the pressure of the drum stick. Sensors can measure the sound and the kinetic pressure and translate it into light. We will work together with the Engineering Club to build and program this electronic equipment to make our drums light up when they are played. Although we currently have most of the electronic equipment to build this project, we need harnesses for the drum. The electronic circuits need to be attached to the harness so as not to affect the sound of the drums. This will also allow the percussion students to move around the stage and auditorium during the concerts so that we incorporate movement into musical performance.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

This project will be successful when our drums light up during our Spring concert, May 18. The students will explain to the audience how they used skills and knowledge from other classes, like computers and science, to build the Illuminated Sound showcase piece.

Benefit to the students and the school

This project is designed to introduce more of the arts into our STEM program – to make it STEAM. Students will recognize that music does not stand alone, completely unrelated to any other subject. They will see how science and technology can be seamlessly integrated and how skills or talents that they possess in other subjects can be showcased in a different way in the music classroom. Concert audiences will find concert programs more exciting – as we add a new visual element with the light-up drums and the moving musicians. This is also wonderful for any students or audience members who may be hearing impaired – they will be able to see the music. The harnesses can also be used at other times during the year, such as the Memorial Day Parade. Band students will be playing in both the Orleans and Brewster ceremonies. Getting into the community can help showcase the good work we are doing at this school and can help grow our program by exciting younger students.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

Once we have the harnesses we will be able to start the project. We will be using these drums at the Spring Concert in May. I hope that we can start building them in January, practice moving while playing, and perform during our concert May 18.

drum lights