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School Noise Control

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Noise Control Information

An Introduction


Is unnecessary noise making it difficult for students to understand everything the teacher and other students say? Does noise from outside the classroom distract the students, making it difficult for them to concentrate? Is the teacher constantly straining to hear and be heard, due to reverberation and activity noise generated within the classroom? Does the noise from computers, printers, lights, air conditioning, heating units, and other classroom equipment force the teacher to work harder and speak more loudly in order to be heard?

With our school noise control products we can help you solve your acoustic needs.

In order for the students to hear and understand what is being said, the teacher’s voice must stand out above any background noise produced by the activity. The louder the activity, the louder the teacher is required to speak. In the classroom, the activity noise and the teacher’s voice are reflected off of blackboards, tile floors, walls, and windows, and each echo interferes with the next spoken word. Although these reflections occur only milliseconds apart, the sounds continually crowd in on one another producing a layering effect that blurs the original sound. It is similar to the effect produced in a busy grocery store when a message is called out over the PA system. The message is loud enough to hear, but you may not understand what is being said.

What is the connection between today’s teaching techniques and reverberation?

Reverberation, the reflection of sound waves off of hard surfaces, is a very common acoustic problem in older school buildings. In days gone by, when these buildings were constructed, students were expected to come in, sit down, and not speak unless spoken to. However today’s teaching techniques encourage group participation, discussion, and hands-on activities. Students are less likely to spend the day sitting silently, writing in workbooks, and more likely to be talking with their peers, moving from group to group, doing experiments, and working on computers. All of these activities can make the classroom a very noisy place, especially if the noise produced bounces around without being absorbed.

How does reverberation affect students’ learning?

Reverberation makes listening difficult for all students but especially so for younger students who have shorter attention spans and are not as skilled at listening. Consonant sounds in particular (d or t? b or p?) become smeared and studies show that even for children with normal hearing, one word out of every four may be indistinct or even unintelligible. Students are forced to expend more energy simply trying to hear, or figure out what the teacher said, rather than thinking about the actual message. By the end of the day, both teacher and students have experienced considerable stress from the constant noise and continuous admonishments to "Keep the noise down."

Can reverberation be detected simply by looking at a classroom?

You can do a quick assessment by simple observation. Here is a checklist to help you determine if a classroom may need acoustical remediation. Reverberation may be a problem if:

Featured School Acoustic Products

SOFT SOUND™ Acoustic Panels

Soft Sound Acoustic Panels
  • Class A fire rated
  • Controls echo and reverberation
  • Improves the aesthetic value of a space
  • Easily cleaned
  • Choose from permanent or semi-permanent installation
SOFT SOUND™ Foam Panels

Soft Sound Foam Panels
  • Class A fire rated
  • Controls echo and reverberation
  • Lightweight
  • Easily cleaned
  • Flexible

Echo Absorber Panels
  • High performance sound absorption
  • Recycled cotton fibers
  • Soft, flat textured surface
  • Colors: White, Light Gray, Charcoal
  • Fire rating ASTM E-84, nonflammable
  • Durable, impact resistant
  • Easy to install (Apply with adhesive)
  • High light reflectance for white
Pyramid Melamine Foam

Pyramid Melamine Foam
  • High performance noise control, absorbs low frequency sounds
  • Fire Retardant Melamine
  • Color: Natural White
  • Flammability: ASTME84 class 1-A nonflammable fire rating