IOA Primary Schools' Competition 2023: Can you improve the sound of something?

By Steve Castle posted 29-03-2023 17:25


Can you improve the sound of something?

There are many sounds around us: natural sounds (such as birdsong or a rushing stream), sounds made by people (such as talking or making music), sounds from machines (such as cars, aircraft or lawnmowers) or a combination of all of these. Some of these sounds we want to hear but others we don’t. The sound we don’t want to hear is called noise. We can encounter noise every day, such as the sound from cars and aircraft or even the sound from other people in your school or playground shouting when your class is being quiet.  

The Competition

This competition is for children aged 7 to 11 years old working individually or in groups of up to four children. We would like you to produce a hand-made drawing, picture, patchwork, collage or similar to illustrate a sound (noise) you don’t like to hear and an idea for how to improve it.

Suggested method

Step 1: think about what sounds you don’t like hearing and make a list of them;

Step 2: select one of the sounds and think about how it could be made more pleasant, for example, is there a way of changing the thing making the sound, or using something else to make it better;

Step 3: create a physical piece of art (drawing, picture, patchwork, collage or similar) showing the sound you don’t like and your idea(s) for making it sound better. 

To do this activity you can use whatever you like!

For example: Pencils, pens or crayons Paper Cardboard Pipe cleaners Glue and sticky tape Balloons Paint Fabric Lollipop sticks Yogurt Pots Glitter Old magazines

The Prize

The winning entrant(s) will each receive a prize of £25 plus a prize of £500 for their school. The winning school will also receive an engraved crystal trophy.

The winner plus one friend or winning group, one teacher and one parent/guardian per child will also be invited to visit their nearest science centre, e.g. Winchester Science Centre, Glasgow Science Centre or the University of Salford.

In addition, the winning school will be given the opportunity for a STEM Ambassador who is a member of the Institute of Acoustics to visit them to present the award and speak a little about what it is like to work in acoustics.

How to Submit your entry

Please take photographs of your artwork, including one photograph of the complete piece and additional photographs focussing in on detailed elements.

Send your photographs of the artwork to with the email subject title ‘Primary School Competition Entry from [Pupil Name], [School Name]’.

Please include the name and age of the participating pupil(s) as well as name and contact details of the school for each competition entry. Please do not send us the physical item.

The deadline for entries will be 31st July 2023. Entries will be judged by a panel of experts. The decision of the judging panel will be final.

Participation in this competition must comply with the relevant health and safety requirements that apply to this type of activity at your school.

Read more information here