iOS Apps for Science Teachers : Teaching about Sound

Teaching about sound in the classroom used to involve lots of fiddly bits of kit such as Signal Generators and Decibel Meters that would cost a lot of money and only get wheeled out once a year.

Thankfully if you have an iPhone or iPad you can replace quite a bit of that kit with a couple of handy apps which are either free or relatively inexpensive.

Here’s a couple to get you started:

Signal Generator : Audio Test Tone

This is an iPhone app, but works just as well on an iPad. It can be used to generate different frequency notes. Use it to demonstrate to a class how the pitch of a sound changes as the frequency changes. It’s very good for looking into hearing range as you can generate a high enough frequency to become inaudible to the human ear.

Try and find the frequency where you as the teacher cannot hear the sound any more but the students still can!

Optional in-app purchases give more functionality such as a Pink Noise creator.

Signal Generator


Like the Signal Generator app, this test tone generator produces sounds from 20Hz to 20Khz. It can be used in the same way for hearing tests and sound demonstrations.



SPL Meter for iPad

SPL meter provides a very useful decibel meter which can be used in class to measure how loud different sounds are. Take it around the school to measure the loudest and quietest places – or take it outside to measure noise pollution.


Decibel 10th

Like SQL Meter, Decibel 10th turns your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch into a professional sound meter, precisely measures the sound level all around you. It also shows a graph of the sound level over time.




OScope turns your iPad or iPhone into a portable Oscilloscope. It uses the iPad microphone and plots a graph of the sound wave on the screen. Use it on the iPad alongside an iPhone playing one of the signal generator apps to show how the graph will change with increased/decreased pitch or volume.

Oscope comes as a free (lite) version and a paid for (£2.99) version with more features.


Got any other good apps that you use for teaching about sound? Please share them in the comments.

Author: Danny Nicholson

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing / interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Please get in touch with your training requests.

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  1. Wave pad – free and a bit like audacity for iPad

  2. Thanks Richard – will take a look at that one.

  3. WavePad like Richard said, used in place of Audacity for speed of sound measurements, and for observing sound wave forms. Also Lightning for talking about speed of sound.

  4. Thanks Micah, will check Lightning out.

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