Interactive light studio makes sound visible

June 24, 2011 2:54:20 PM PDT
P.S. 347 is the city's only public school for kids who are deaf, hard of hearing or the children of deaf parents. In their interactive light studio, however, the sense of hearing is not needed to have fun.

Nicholas Wong is a recent engineering graduate of Cooper Union. His students created the studio for P.S. 347, and he created battery powered fireflies that light up in reaction to touch.

"It's important to be playful, and allow hands-on engagement," said Wong.

The lights in the room react to sound. Not just any sound, but also the pitch of the sound. For the deaf kids, it makes sound visible.

"They can begin to develop some kind of awareness; awareness of how sound can affect things, how it can affect people. For hearing children, I think it's equally powerful," said P.S. 347 Principal David Bowell, who is also deaf.

Cooper Union says its students often use science in the community.

"Engineering is for making the world a better place. We create devices that better society," said Cooper Union professor Melody Baglione.

In the future, P.S. 347 hopes to expand the technology of turning sound into light for more classroom applications.