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In the Speed of Sound Inquiry Lab Kit for AP® Physics 1, identify the physical variables that affect the force of sound between two objects.

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AP Physics 1, Big Idea 6, Investigation 14

Lightning flashes and we see it immediately, then a few seconds later we hear a thunderclap. Since light travels faster than sound, counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder gives us an approximation of how far away the lightning flashed. Just how fast does sound travel?

This advanced-inquiry lab begins with an introductory cooperative class activity to determine the speed of sound in air using echoes as sound waves are generated and reflect off a flat surface. Students are then challenged to design a procedure to measure the speed of sound by employing the concepts of standing waves and resonance in a closed-end tube. The guided-inquiry activity includes a set of eight tuning forks so each group works with a different sound frequency. Students analyze and compare the two different methods of measuring the speed of sound.

Complete for 24 students working in groups of three. A tape measure is required and available separately. All materials are reusable.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Obtaining, evaluation, and communicating information
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-PS4.A: Wave Properties

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns
Cause and effect
Structure and function
Systems and system models
Energy and matter

Performance Expectations

HS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media.