- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

HUNTLEY, Ill. (AP) - Administrators at Huntley High School outside Chicago are considering a change to a new school bell after sophomore Kyle Ockerlund decided to do a scientific investigation and found the tone was disruptive to learning.

The 16-year-old from Lake in the Hills, who founded the school’s experimental science society, devised tests to measure student concentration. Through his investigation, Ockerlund discovered that students exposed to the high-pitched bell didn’t perform as well on tests.

“We have to stay in class through the passing period bell,” he said. “When that bell goes off in full volume in a silent room it is a very piercing sound.”

Members of the science club helped Ockerlund develop and administer concentration tests to a group of 50 freshmen while sounding both the old and new bell sounds, the Daily Herald (https://bit.ly/1H1wcrL ) reported.

“We found a statistically significant difference,” he said, “that the new bell does in fact lead to a decrease — 10 percent — in student concentration.”

The investigation determined students took 8 seconds longer on average to complete the test when the new bell rang, Ockerlund added.

“I didn’t realize it was an issue,” Principal Scott Rowe said of the bell that was installed over spring break as an upgrade to the school’s public address system. “Nothing that I really noticed other than it being slightly louder. I’ve received no complaints other than his study. It was really enlightening that his results came out the way that they did.”

Administrators plan to use Ockerlund’s research and input as they explore what tone is optimal for student’s learning, Rowe said.

“He is an amazing kid,” he said of Ockerlund. “We are really trying to give our students a voice. We want them to feel ownership in our school and want to create a communication pathway from students to the administration. This is an example of how our school will receive some positive change because of how our student took this upon himself. Hopefully, we can find a tone that sounds good.”

Ockerlund said he’s pleased at how administrators have responded to his research.

“I didn’t expect anything,” Kyle said. “Certainly the response was more than welcoming, more than I had imagined it would be. We’re basically working together to get it switched. That’s extremely exciting.”

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Information from: Daily Herald, https://www.dailyherald.com


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