Institute of Acoustics School’s Competition 2023
We had the pleasure of sitting down with David Waddington, Professor in Acoustics at the University of Salford and soon to be president of the Institute of Acoustics. To discuss how the IOA are trying to get in front of students and younger people more.
From listening to David it is very clear how passionate he is about the need of bringing universities and schools into the Institute of Acoustics more.
One way this is being achieved is members of the IOA are visiting schools and conducting experiments to introduce acoustics to secondary school students. They also are working with primary schools through a partnership with Edinburgh Science who go into schools and introduce primary school students to acoustics. The aim of introducing students to acoustics is not to try and convince students to work in acoustics, but to look at the bigger picture overall, where students may take career paths that an awareness of acoustics will only support their job. For example as an architect, they will be aware of this thing called acoustics, and from this will know they need to get in an acoustic consultant.
Another way they the IOA are looking to work with schools is through their yearly competition. The IOA Secondary Schools’ Competition 2023 – Acoustics and Ecology.
David has introduced the topic of this year’s project, as he wanted to set a project that would bring together, big data, artificial intelligence, ecology and acoustics. As it is clear that young people are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in ecology.
BirdNET is an app that was developed by Cornell University. This app works on the premise of you taking an audio recording of a bird noise, which you then upload to the app. From this, the app then tells you what species of bird it think the audio clip is of and the probability of how reliable the result is that it has given you.
The competition uses BirdNET, by suggesting that students in groups try three locations, for example: next to a motorway, in the school grounds and in a park. So they can discover how many species they can detect and the abundance of those species. The IOA aim to tie this project into the schools’ syllabus already because schools are very busy. To support the competition, IOA members will visit schools or provide videos on how to undertake the project.
As profession in Acoustics in the School of Science, Engineering and Environment at the University of Salford, David has helped negotiate funding with the University of Salford so that schools can visit the site to see the facilities and see the anechoic chamber.
David finishes by explaining The University of Salford are doing more about the ecological impacts of environmental noise. For example if there is a road going through an area where you have got wildlife it impacts on the wildlife. We hear a lot about the fact that the birds need to sing louder, but there is far more to it than that. If you impact one part of the biodiversity chain the entire ecology around that area then changes, which then impacts on the areas that are around that.
Find out more and register your school for the IOA’s Secondary Schools’ Competition 2023.