Singing Sands

Photo credit: Jonas Satkauskas (Wikimedia, Attribution Required)

Walking across the sand anywhere from the United States, Namibia, Wales, Dunhuang, China, Japan, Qatar, and Egypt and you may come across a squealing, booming, or whistling sound. These “singing” sands are caused by vibrations in the sand and require a combination of round sand grains, silica content, and humidity and emit a variety of sounds. A dune can exist in a desert like the Namib Desert or on the coast of Lake Michigan in Indiana. Deserts worldwide are caused by similar patterns of wind, temperature, and moisture.

Guiding Questions

  • Where might you find sand dunes?
  • What properties about sand dunes allow them to “sing”?
  • What sort of temperature and moisture would lead to a desert?
  • How does wind influence desert formation?


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External Resources

Cross-cutting Concepts

  • C1: Patterns
  • C2: Cause and Effect

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • ESS2.D: Weather & Climate
  • PS4.A: Wave Properties