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Developing and Popularizing STEM Online Tools: The Case of 'Listening to Waves' Tools for the Science of Music

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Victor Hugo Minces University of California, San Diego

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Dr. Minces studied physics at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and obtained his Ph.D. in Computational Neurobiology at the University of California, San Diego. His interests are very diverse, including sensory and neural processing in animals and humans, the cognitive and neuroscience of music, and the role of music in science education. He has created Listening to Waves, an outreach program on the science of music that has reached thousands of students. Dr. Minces leads the team that designed the tools presented in this poster, which can be accessed for free at

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Music is a source of joy and identity formation in all cultures and socio-economic strata, and its connections with science, technology, engineering, and math are numerous. One important connection is with the physics of waves. Listening to Waves (LTW) is a program designed to increase adolescents’ interest in STEM through the science of sound and music. Based on LTW’s early experience performing STEM outreach activities in schools, LTW recognized the need to create easily accessible tools for visualizing and manipulating sound. In particular, LTW has been developing browser-based implementations of a signal generator, an oscilloscope, and a spectrogram. These tools, commonly used in physics and engineering laboratories, represent and analyze data gathered through the computer microphone and sent to the speaker. LTW has modified them and added functionalities that allow students to deepen their engagement by playfully creating sound and music. For example, the oscilloscope tool also functions as a simple sound editor with which students can apply signal-processing effects and record their creations. The tools' are being used thousands of times each month throughout the United States’ school system. Here, I give an account of the development of the online tools and the elements that lead to their widespread adoption, hoping that this account can benefit other teams creating interactive STEM-oriented applications. This project is funded through NSF’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST), Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings.

Minces, V. H. (2021, July), Developing and Popularizing STEM Online Tools: The Case of 'Listening to Waves' Tools for the Science of Music Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36938

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