Project #34772 - EXPERIMENT: Determining the Speed of Sound

Assume that this experiment is tested at an ambient temperature of 20oC, so the velocity for 

sound in traveling in air is 343 m/s. 

2. Fill a water glass, approximately 17 cm high, with tap water. The glass needs to be wide 

enough to hold the plastic pipe. 


3. Allow the tap water to equilibrate to ambient temperature. Use a thermometer to 

measure both the room temperature and the water; when they are the same 

temperature the water is equilibrated. Record this temperature in Data Table 1. 


4. Place the plastic tube into the water. 


5. Hold the tuning fork by its handle and strike it against a wooden block or against the 

heel of your shoe. 


6. Hold the vibrating tuning fork so that the tines are horizontally aligned near the top of the 

tube, but not touching the tube




1. Calculate the experimental speed of sound: 


v = f λ 


Symbol Explanation 

v Velocity of sound 

f Frequency of the tuning fork 

λ 4(L + 0.3d) 



2. Calculate the theoretical speed of sound (v): 


v = 331.4 + 0.6TC m/s 


 331.4 m/s is the speed of sound at 20ºC 

 TC is the temperature of air during testing 


3. Calculate the percent error of your experimentally derived value: 


% error = experimental value – theoretical value × 100 

theoretical value 


4. Considering the length of your resonance tube, what is the lowest frequency tuning fork 

you could use for this experiment? Show your calculations! 


5. A person fishing from a pier observes that four wave crests pass by in 7.0 s and 

estimates that the distance between two successive crests is 4.0 m. The timing starts 

with the first crest and ends with the fourth. What is the speed of the wave? 



A. Search for examples of resonance frequencies that have occurred on bridges, sport 

stadiums, and mosh pits. Write a one page paper on how these instances of resonance 

occurred and what effects they had on these structures. 


B. Referring to the question above, what steps can be taken in designing a structure to 

prevent resonant frequencies from occurring. Hint: search the Web for “damping 

building techniques.” 


Subject Science
Due By (Pacific Time) 07/08/2014 12:00 am
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