Dec 8th: Measuring Noise





My name is Sara Boyd and I am  a Lecturer in Environmental Health Risk Management in the School of Food Science & Environmental Health at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. If you would like to contact me, my email is


Noise Measurement Apps were integrated into the occupational safety and health module with undergraduate Environmental Health students.  The Environmental Health Profession regularly requires the use of hand-held mobile devices for instant feedback in occupational audits and inspections.  Compliance with relevant occupational noise levels was also measured.   Noise Apps were also used with Food Innovation students who will be employed with the food manufacturing sector.  The aim of the project with food innovation students was to create general awareness about noise levels in the workplace, sources of noise in work, exposure to noise in the workplace and exploration of possible control measures using the controls measure hierarchy.

pin_rdDescription of project
Changes in technology continue to change the possibilities for teaching and learning and create new challenges for pedagogy.  The growing use of mobile technology on college campuses suggests the future of the classroom, including learning activities, research, and even student-faculty or departmental communications will rely heavily on mobile technology.  Learning with mobile technology allows the students to expand discussion and investigation beyond the walls on the lecture theatre (Rossing et al, 2012).  Johnson et al (2011) reported that increasing numbers of students now expect the ability to “work, learn and study wherever and whenever they want.  For this project I used a range of noise measuring Apps for mobile phones for application in the workplace and everyday life.  The main aim of the project was to educate students regarding measuring noise, interpretation of noise measurement results and measure the compliance level.  The project also introduced students to the concept of noise induced hearing loss (NHHL) and how we are exposed to loud noises in our everyday lives.

pin_rdSelection of Noise Apps
After completing the lecture material in class (notes on Blackboard platform also) students were asked to research, select and download a free Noise App.  Emphasis was placed on the “free” component as did not want to put a cost onto the students.  Students were asked to consider the following when selecting their preferred Noise App

  • noise measurement range of the app
  • facility to calibrate the App
  • facility to record noise levels
  • graphical output – charts, graphics etcnoise1
  • also selection of an App that was compatible with their mobile phone – Android or Apple (all students had smart phones).

There is a wide variety of Noise Measuring Apps which are available for the Android and iPhone devices.

Most modern phones have in-built microphones which can measure the sound pressure level.  The free Noise Apps  available differed greatly in design, capabilities, presentation and output.  A demonstration was given in class using the Too Loud noise app which also gives a health warning when noise levels exceed acceptable levels.  This instant health message can be very effective.

pin_rdThe Case Study
Students were asked to download and apply noise measurement Apps in many scenarios.  Many students have part-time jobs and they were asked to note noise measurements in work, at home and in social settings for example nightclub or concert.  They were also asked to record noise measurements on public transport, on the street and when watching television.  This self-directed task opened up a healthy and highly interactive conversation on return to the lecture about real time noise measurements, how to measure exposure (daily and weekly) and the possible health impact.  It was also an opportunity to gather, compare and contrast real-time noise data from the field.

The following is a brief description of 10 free Noise Apps which were selected, used and applied by students.



Graphic 1. Screen shots of Sound Meter Noise Graphics (Nov 2016).

noise10 noise7

Figure 2.  Screenshots of Physics Toolbox Sound Meter (Nov, 2016).

pin_rdStudent Feedback
First and foremost the students were fully engaged in using their mobile phones and were happy to be given an opportunity to integrate this into their module.  The students reported ease of use and downloading of the above Noise Apps.  They were engaged in the application and interpretation of noise results they had generated.  It must be noted that we measured the Noise Apps against a certified and calibrated Bruel and Kjaer Type 1, 2238 Sound Level Meter.  Whilst there were variations in noise level readings using the same noise source – students were made aware that the Noise Apps gave an indicator of the noise levels.  This emphasised the validity and reliability (or lack thereof) of some of the noise measurements.  The student feedback was extremely positive regarding the task and interpretation.  The students really enjoyed the practical aspect to the project.  Many students were quite surprised how loud some sources of noise were for example on public transport and in music events.  One student took a measurement of 116db in a nightclub.  The exercise opened up a conversation about hearing protection from an early age – in both an occupational and leisure setting.
noise8And finally one for the little ones – “Too Noisy”
This free Noise App can be used in the classroom for children, again to create awareness about noise and noise levels.  This app allows the children to monitor their own noise levels in the classroom using visual stimulus– how noisy are they?  It operates on a traffic light system and allows for monitoring of quiet and for more creative classroom scenarios.  It’s appealing to children and introduces them early to the basic concept of noise, sources of noise and measurement of noise.  It also introduces the concept on self-monitoring using hand-held devices.  Interaction tendency in children is enhanced by mobile applications.


Graphic 3.  Screen shots of the “Too Noisy” App for classroom settings

There is no doubt that application and use of Noise Apps for this particular module fully engaged students and supported learning.  Foti and Mendez (2014) reported students turn their mobile devices into learning tools through the use of apps.  Their study concluded that students would like to see mobile devices integrated into the lecture theatre to make learning interactive and dynamic through the use of appropriate Apps.  Previous studies have found the use of mobile devices in lectures is considered enjoyable and convenient by students (Rossing et al 2012).

Exclamation markCOMPETITION TIME: The half way giveaway!
To be in with a chance to win a €60 e-voucher, complete the following task.

For those with an Android device please download the free app “Sound Metre ABC”.  For those with an Apple device please download the free app “Decibel 10th Professional Noise Metre”. Shout “Happy Christmas” as loud as you can and take a screen shot of the level of noise you created. Tweet your screenshot to #12appsDIT. The noisiest person wins!

If you do not have a twitter account but would like to enter the competition, please email your screenshot to 

twitter_logo_blue Any comments or observations can be tweeted to #12appsDIT or left in the comments box below.

glasses imageReferences
Fotis, Megan, K and Mendez, Jomayra (2014. Mobile Learning: How Students Use Mobile Devices to Support Learning. Journal of Literacy and Technology, Vol 15, Number 3: December 2014 ISSN 1535-09457.  Retrieved from jlt_v15_3

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011).  The 2011 Horizon Report, Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Rossing, Jonathan P., Miller, Willie M., Cecil, Amanda K., Stamper, Suzan E. iLearning: The Future of Higher Education? Student Perceptions on Learning with Mobile Tablets, Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v12 n2 p1-26 June 2012.



28 thoughts on “Dec 8th: Measuring Noise

    1. Certainly will use it with my classes. It’s a great opportunity to ask my students to measure the noise they make while having lunch at the school canteen. And the idea of using the Too Loud noise app which also gives a health warning when noise levels exceed acceptable levels is excellent.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Not just the apps but the activity itself is a great learning idea.
    I have a plan for our medical students to do a similar activity with step counting / fitness monitoring apps. The learning outcome is to identify the appropriate criteria to use when evaluating an app before recommending it to a future patient.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This would be a great addition for my Safety and Health students when they are doing their S&H audit assignments. They could have great fun comparing results. This would be great interactive tool also. We have Chrome books for student use for the first time this year and they are using it for videos. I think we could use all the apps shown so far-bring them on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all the comments. Each of the projects were much more detailed – just wanted to give a flavour of whats available. Next year I hope to continue this type of work with students using Accelerometer Apps to measure workplace vibration. It’s also linked to the development of transferable skills within the workplace. These Apps give us an “indicator” of workplace conditions. The Noise Apps could easily be used by workplaces to provide instant feedback on noise levels – could also be linked to sound limiters for example in nightclubs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This app could be very useful in my line of work (flutist and piccoloist) and could be a great tool in the music field in general. As a classical musician, sound levels are an issue in orchestras and musicians do suffer from hearing loss from playing in orchestras sitting in front of brass and/or percussion sections.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My Leisure students are organising a soccer blitz for younger students. They are totally in charge of keeping the students under control, so they could use this app to help them measure the noise levels! Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can register for a free browser based version of it via the Too Noisy website For me it pops up as an option a few seconds after I access the website. If you have access to a PC and whiteboard in your classroom, you could use that. I’ll leave it to Sara to suggest good alternative apps to you as it’s not my area.


    2. Mrs. Ashley, there is called Noise Maker. There are different themes to choose from, however, you have to pay for the other themes. The free theme is a cat. it’s cute. You can set the noise maker for silent, quiet, class, or group participation. The cat will measure the level of noise in the classroom. If the class gets too loud, they crack the screen of the app. But fear not, the screen can be fixed when the noise level comes back down. Try it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. People don’t want to have to shout in their offices today in order to enter the noisy competition, so I’ll leave it open until midnight GMT on Sunday December 11th to give people a chance to enter.


  6. I like having a visual representation of noise – this would be a fascinating tool for classroom management, or even as a tool to encourage healthy competition when I work with orientation leaders who are cheering between different groups!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the use of a noise app for classroom management. My high schoolers struggle with noise control in the classroom because they are used to the loud hallways, cafeteria, etc. They definitely need the visual reminder as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think one of the real highlights of this case study is that students have to research and select an app themselves. I’d imagine their was a lot of discussion and comparison among the students about their choices. Great stuff. I might also download one of the apps myself so my 12 year old drummer son might wear his ear protection more willingly!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. More generally, what you are asking students to do is to observe and measure data. I think it’s an interesting activity with real world applications that could lead to a more general discussion on the importance of observation, coding, recording and interpreting data. Great for science, human science and engineering students. And the other apps suggested in this thread would be different ways of approaching the same discussion.

    Really nice, too that it can be taken out to measure phenomena which have meaning for the students (such as the noise on a bus, or the noise at a party).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As the school librarian, I spend a good amount of time assessing noise levels in our busy library and reminding students to lower volume. The Too Noisy App would allow students to self-monitor in the library! This app gives the opportunity for students to own their own noise! And the less time I spend on monitoring, the more time I would have to support students in gathering information!


  11. Thank you very much for sharing, it made me smile thinking, at the end, of my own daughter and her 2 most usual levels: loud and LOUDER 🙂


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