Question Sheet: Sounds and Silence


Before reading:

  1. Where is the quietest place that you have ever been? 
  2. Name at least six sounds you hear every day. 
  3. What is noise pollution?

During reading:

  1. Describe in your own words a “soundscape.” What is the soundscape of your classroom? 
  2. How do airplanes affect the sense of solitude in wilderness parks? 
  3. Why are natural sounds considered to be an important resource? 
  4. How is Ambrose trying to use the Internet? 
  5. What urban sounds or sounds outside of national parks are talked about in this article?

After reading:

  1. What sorts of sounds do you think you would hear if you turned your home for a short time into a ‘no talking zone’? 
  2. Should the National Park Service try to curb noise pollution generated by tourist airplanes and helicopters? How would you address the interests and needs of tourists and the airplane touring industry? 
  3. If you were going to set up a “sound-cam,” where would you put it and what would you like to hear? Why? 
  4. Bernie Krause is a bioacoustician and a musician. How do you think the sounds you hear in nature or in the city affect music? Name a song that uses ambient or daily noise in its music.

News detective:

  1. How are sounds different for Emily now that she lives in Minnesota? 
  2. Why do you think people such as Emily like a certain amount of noise when they work?


  1. Imagine a future where there is no quiet place. Write a letter to your grandchildren about what it is like to be in a quiet spot listening to nature. 
  2. Go with a friend to a seemingly quiet spot. Set a watch for 10 minutes. Write down all the sounds that you hear during that period. Have your friend do the same thing. After the time is up, compare your list to your friend’s list. Write a description of the similarities and differences in the sounds that the two of you heard.


Imagine a park where airplanes fly overhead at regular intervals nine times a day. The plane noise lasts about 25 seconds, and it then takes half an hour for animals to start making normal sounds again. For how long are the animals making their normal sounds on a typical day?