By Douglas Glenn Clark
Now that STEM is STEAM — with the Arts added back into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — a growing number of school administrators are adding broadcast quality school media rooms for students interested in pursuing radio and TV careers.
To train students for professional broadcasting careers, one of the first orders of business is to help them sound professional on air, without unwanted noise pollution. Insufficient school media room soundproofing can make “on-air” broadcasts sound like a noisy school walkway. Clamor from busy streets, highways, railways, airports or even the school band can also intrude on school radio or TV programs.
As a remedy, more school administrators are turning to recording studio techniques that virtually eliminate noise from windows, one of the weakest links in allowing noise to enter broadcast media rooms. These cost-effective techniques are also being used to soundproof school music rooms, libraries and media centers to improve student attention and even test scores.
Techniques for Schools
To help students sound professional in school media rooms, Reno, Nev.-based Soundproof Windows Inc. has applied techniques for recording studios — among the most noise-sensitive environments in the world — to its products.
Since expansive windowpanes are essentially porous gateways to noise, the company developed an inner buffer (a second window) that can be used on existing old or new windows. The method controls noise as well as temperature, which is important for preserving sensitive broadcast equipment. The unique interior panels look just like the original windows, whether they are adjustable or permanently closed. This provides added flexibility to school architects who may want to preserve historic vestiges of an old site while also modernizing it. If you want to learn more about soundproofing, check out Soundproof Panda for some tips and tricks to soundproof your home.
Soundproof Windows products are often less expensive than competitors, and the company discloses the type of materials used and methods for sealing windows with school maintenance staff as well as the placement of screws to tamp down sound seepage.
Improving Concentration, Test Scores
When planning for new school construction or renovation, administrators and architects consider a long list of needs and upgrades. Yet studies show that new features may do very little to address one of the most insidious enemies of learning: pervasive noise.
Learning in a noisy environment can be especially detrimental for young students whose hearing is not yet fully developed. They do not comprehend the lesson if they cannot completely hear their teacher’s instruction. The same is true for students with attention deficit disorders, hereditary hearing problems and anyone for whom English is a second language. Additionally, noise from traffic, the band, choir or neighboring classrooms may compete for a teacher’s attention.
A pioneering study compared reading and auditory processing to levels of external noise in a home setting near an urban highway. Children who were tested had the same socio-economic background. But the student, whose apartment was far removed from the busy roadway, and therefore experienced less background noise, enjoyed higher reading scores — revealing that poor classroom acoustics can serve as barriers to learning and reduce scholastic achievement.
Since improved schoolwork remains the goal of construction and renovation projects, better acoustical design is essential.
Avoid These Mistakes
While double-paned windows help control temperature, they lack the acoustic sophistication needed to reduce noise. When choosing windows for a school project, officials should consider a product’s Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating number. The higher the number, the more noise is stopped. A typical rating for standard windows is 26 to 28. Yet, the acoustic soundproof products used by most schools earn a 48 to 52 rating.
Some manufacturers, however, provide an STC rating only for the glass, not an installed unit. This can be deceptive as successful noise remediation is based on factors such as the air gap between the product and the existing window, the design of the frame and the installation.
In contrast, Soundproof Windows engineers can install test windows in a school so that before-and-after noise-levels can be compared. In some cases, exterior noise drops 95 percent, according to managers of large properties that abut highways.
Whether broadcasting radio or TV programs from the school media room or studying for any STEAM subject, silence is golden. Therefore, new school construction and renovation experts offer suggestions. First, locate “critical listening” environments and, when possible, keep them away from external noise sources. Meetings between facility managers and school administrators will help minimize noise intrusions by properly scheduling activities such as mowing lawns. Finally, treat the school environment like a recording studio. Students training for careers in broadcast radio or TV, as well as all students on campus are capable of achieving great things with soundproof windows.
Douglas Glenn Clark is a content creator based in Los Angeles. For more information, contact Soundproof Windows Inc. by visiting www.soundproofwindows.com.