Reducing Noise Transfer Between Classrooms

Schools are environments where it is essential to have good acoustics and to minimise noise transfer from adjoining rooms, for effective teaching and learning. A noisy music lesson in one room with poorly sound insulated walls, could obviously be hugely disruptive to a quiet maths lesson taking place in an adjoining room! There are several ways in which noise transfer can be reduced between school learning areas:Ambient noiseThere will always be an amount of background noise in a school, whether from children talking in a hallway, a plane flying overhead, or heavy traffic on a road outside. This can make it harder for a teacher to be heard, and can also be distracting for the children. External noise can be addressed through careful choice of glazing and ventilation. Rainfall can create a great deal of noise, especially if falling on metal roofs of halls and gyms. This can be significantly reduced by fitting a noise damping materials on around 60% of the underside of a roof. In addition, sound blocking panels could be fitted into upgraded suspended ceilings.

Impact noise, for example, from feet tramping over hard surfaces such as wooden floors, can be reduced by laying floating floors with a noise resilient layer, or by adding an acoustic underlay. These can have the advantage of reducing airborne sound, as well as reducing impact noise and are useful where classrooms are beneath other classrooms.Acoustic separationDifferent school rooms have different noise tolerances, so a relatively noisy environment may be more acceptable in a school dinner hall where there is no learning taking place, while a classroom will have a much lower noise tolerance level. It is important to calculate noise tolerance levels in a room, as well as the noise that will be generated inside, and also to consider noise tolerance and noise generation levels in an adjoining room. A special table can be used to calculate the need for acoustic separation between rooms and the higher the number, the greater the need for soundproofing.There are various acoustic boards available which can be used to upgrade stud walls, partitions and ceilings, which don’t add greatly to the thickness of the walls. These are particularly useful for soundproofing music rooms.

Reverberation timeThere will be long reverberation times, or echoes, in teaching zones that have lots of hard surfaces, and these can mean speech is blurred and hard to understand. The teacher may then raise their voice, which can increase reverberation and compound the problem. The answer is to add acoustic absorption panels to hard surfaces of walls and ceilings. Acoustic panels are available in lots of different fabrics and colours to suit the room, which are suspended from easy to fit brackets. These are particularly effective in reducing reverberation times in assembly halls and gyms, which are typically double height spaces.

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