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Investigating Airport Sound Levels

Sound levels of airplanes at take off and landing
Sound levels of airplanes at take off and landing

Anyone who lives along the flight path of a major airport knows that sound pollution is an unpleasant fact of life. Riley Wilson, Tim Horton, and Mario Bautista, 8th grade students at Hughes Middle School in Long Beach, California, know this all too well, often having instruction interrupted as planes fly over their school.

Airplane noise in the Long Beach area is a frequent topic of debate. This motivated Riley, Tim, and Mario to measure the noise level at points along the flight path of Long Beach runway 30 as their science project. Based on their research, they believed that planes landing would create a higher level of sound intensity compared to planes taking off. Equipped with our Sound Level Meters (order code SLM-BTA, $209), they selected locations along the flight path and measured sound level intensities of planes during takeoff and landing. Since the experimental decibel levels exceeded the maximum allowable levels for residential areas, their report has added fuel to the airport noise debate in Long Beach. This has prompted a city councilman to suggest a stricter noise ordinance for the city and has given the boys valuable insight on how science impacts politics.

Note: Riley Wilson is the son of Bill and Margaret Wilson, owners of School Savers, a Vernier and Texas Instruments distributor (www.schoolsavers.com).

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