Listen Up!

Listen Up! There’s a huge difference between a shout and a whisper, between the buzzing of a bee and the barking of a dog. But no matter what sounds you hear, they travel the same pathway in your ears. So how do you know that these sounds are different? Your ears have a special way of telling you. There are three main parts to your ear: outer, middle, and inner. Each part plays a different role. Your outer ear is the part that can be seen on your head. It is wide along the edges and narrow in the center. It is like a funnel that brings sound from the outside to the inside of your body. The outer ear is also the place where earwax forms. This wax helps to fight off germs and dirt that can hurt the other parts of your ear. Once a sound has passed through the outer ear, it enters the middle ear. Here it meets up with your eardrum. The eardrum’s job is to turn sound into movement. When the sound hits the eardrum, the eardrum shakes, or vibrates. This, in turn, moves three very tiny bones right next to it. The bones are called the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup. These bones help to push the sound to the next area: the inner ear. The inner ear looks like a very tiny snail shell. Inside this curved shape is a liquid and lots of tiny hairs. As sound vibrations pass through the curve, it moves the liquid, just as wind moves the waves across the top of a lake. These waves cause the hairs to move. Each hair sends a fast message to your brain. And your brain reads all these messages and lets you know what kind of sound you’re hearing and just how loud it is. Have you ever wondered why you have two ears, and not just one? With one ear, you could hear all kinds of sounds and know how loud or soft they are, but you wouldn’t know where the sound was coming from. Both ears working together let your brain know the direction of the sound. Aren’t ears wonderful? ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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