How the ear works

These Webpages are no longer maintained. We are keeping the pages here to preserve some of the early years of ProjectDragonfly, to honor the students who created the interactives in the early days of the Web, and because many of the activities are fun and people are still using them. For current Project Dragonfly work, go


The ProjectDragonflyteam.

Subject: Ear

How the ear works:

    The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. All three parts must work together in order for you to hear.

    The outer ear is the part of the ear you see. Its main job is to catch the sound waves. After it collects the sound waves it sends them to the middle ear.

    The middle ear turns the sound waves into vibration. It does this by using the eardrum and the three smallest bones in you body called ossicles. The ear drum is a small piece of skin that vibrates and causes the three bones to vibrate. The vibration is carried by the three bones into the inner ear.

    In the inner ear the vibration enter the cochlea which is a small. Curled tube that is filled with liquid. The cochlea is lined with cells that have very tiny hairs on them. The hairs are so small you can't see them.

    When the sound vibrations enter the cochlea the liquid starts to vibrate and the little hairs start to move.

    The hairs change the sound vibrations into nerve signals so you brain can understand the sound. The signals then go to your brain and the brain can then interpret the sound.

    If any part of this pathway doesn't function then the brain cannot receive the signal and you cannot hear the sound. However because sound is waves, people who cannot hear sound still can feel the sounds vibration.

Related links

This document has been accessed 1 times since Tuesday, December 2, 1997.
This document was last modified on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 at 11:51:30.