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New 'Sonic Sensation' traveling exhibit at Long Island Children's Museum explores sound

The Sonic Sensation exhibit opens at the Long

The Sonic Sensation exhibit opens at the Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City on Saturday. Credit: LICM/Dave Burbank

Kids can step inside the Scream Chamber and roar as loud as they can as part of the new, interactive Sonic Sensation exhibit at the Long Island Children’s Museum that opens Saturday.

The soundproof, closet-like chamber has a transparent door so kids can see out and parents in. A meter above the door records the decibel level of the child’s voice and compares it with the levels of a human whisper, a chirping bird, a dog’s bark, a howler monkey, a coqui frog, a peacock’s mating call, a lion’s roar, cicadas and the loudest human scream.

Parents can give the Scream Chamber a whirl, too. “I can see a little family competition there to see who can scream the loudest,” says Aimee Terzulli, Children's Museum director of education and visitor experience.

The traveling Sonic Sensation exhibit was developed by the Sciencenter in upstate Ithaca to help kids understand the world of sound, including decibels, amplitude, frequency, pitch and sound waves.

“We’re very visually driven as human beings, especially in this day and age. We’re bombarded with imagery and very much rely on information we get through the eyes,” says Erik Schurink, director of exhibits for the Children’s Museum. “Environmental sounds are full of information, too.” Through understanding how hearing works, kids can be more in tune with sound, he says.

Here are six other experiences awaiting visitors to Sonic Sensation:

Here’s an Ear

Kids launch a mini billiard ball to demonstrate how sound travels to the eardrum and activates signals to the brain. “When people say ‘ear,’ they think of the thing you see,” Schurink says. “The most critical part of what the ear does is inside the head, how sound gets processed.”

Critters in a Cupboard

One person hides the cat and the cricket in a row of cupboards and another person tries to find them by listening to their sounds. “The graphic talks bout how sound helps us locate things,” Terzulli says.

Music in Motion

Kids stand in front of a camera and wave a hand. That motion activates a screen, and rectangles appear. Each rectangle represents a note on a piano scale. Kids can then “play” music by waving their hand over the rectangles.

How’s Your Hearing

Participants test their own hearing by listening to different pitches and noting which frequencies they can hear with their right and left ears. They can record their results on a chart. “It’s really nifty. Even if you have perfect hearing in one ear, you may notice that there’s a discrepancy in the other,” Schurink says. Parents and children can compare their hearing, he says.

Ear This!

Families can take selfies showing how they would look with the ears of an elephant, a rabbit or a bat. “You put your head in a circle of different animal ears,” Terzulli says.

Create a Soundtrack

Kids can add silly sounds to a movie clip, including walking footsteps, running water, a train toot and more. “Watching in silence wouldn’t be the same experience,” Terzulli says. “The sound in the background is so important.”

Sonic Sensation

WHEN|WHERE Saturday through May 5 at the Long Island Children’s Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City

COST Included with museum admission of $14 for adults and children older than 1 and $13 for seniors

INFO 516-224-5800;

Sound Workshops

The museum will offer a variety of complementary workshops to the exhibit. From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday,  it’s What Do We “Ear”? The drop-in workshop is free with museum admission and lets kids design an animal ear out of cardstock that they can take home. “We’ll be talking about how animals have better hearing than human beings,” says Aimee Terzulli, LICM’s director of education and visitor experience. “We’ll talk about how the shape of the ear helps funnel the sound differently.”

Future workshops include experimenting with sound tubes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 18 and 22, and making a buzzing noise maker from noon to 2 p.m. on March 10.

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