Arbor Scientific is providing physics and physical science teachers with a collection of student lab activities for the study of Sound. Here you can browse lab activities by title and get teachers notes, student worksheets and a list of equipment and supplies needed for each activity.

Wind Instruments Inquiry

Simple instruments to explore sound and frequency.

Students will use three simple toy instruments to explore fundamentals of sound and frequency in this inquiry exercise. Boomwhackers: Students will share a number of colored plastic tubes of various lengths. Standing sound waves are excited inside the tubes, with wavelengths a little longer than double the length of the tube. Twirling Pipes: When the sound pipes are twirled around, they produce a note whose pitch depends upon how fast you can twirl it! You can probably produce only three different pitches, or frequencies. The pipes are producing members of a harmonic series. Students will also make soda straw flutes.

Required Equipment
Boomwhackers, Audioscope software or Sound Sensor for measuring frequency, Sound Pipe, Soda Straws, Scissors.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Dr. J.R. Harkay author of Phenomenal Physics for providing this student inquiry activity. Adapted from “Pythagoras Sounds Off II: Wind Instruments,” an Inquiry Exercise by J. R. Harkay.  Seewww.PhenomenalPhysics.com for more information on the complete Guided Inquiry Curriculum.

Dr. Russell Harkay
Keene State College
New Hampshire

The “Sound Sensor” required for this lab is readily available at your local music store as an instrument tuner with a built in microphone. Korg electronic tuners (about $20) make wonderful frequency meters! Each lab group would need one sound sensor.

Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Set of 8 Boomwhackers

In Stock SKU: P7-7400
$34.00

Sound Pipe

In Stock SKU: P7-7200
$2.95

The “Sound Sensor” required for this lab is readily available at your local music store as an instrument tuner with a built in microphone. Korg electronic tuners (about $20) make wonderful frequency meters! Each lab group would need one sound sensor.

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Doppler Effect

subway passing
The Doppler Effect occurs when an observer hears a sound from a moving source. If the sound source is moving toward the observer, the perceived frequency will be higher than the actual sound frequency. If the source is moving away from the observer, the perceived frequency will be lower.

Required Equipment
Doppler Ball, and String

Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Doppler Ball

In Stock SKU: P7-7120
$15.00

Roll of String

In Stock SKU: PX-2134
$3.90
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Resonance: Speed of Sound

jet reaching speed of sound

Resonance occurs when an object is made to vibrate at its natural frequency, and the vibrations reinforce themselves, becoming larger. In the case of sound, the object can be a column (or other vessel) of air, and the larger vibrations are observed as a louder sound. In this lab, students will use a tuning fork to find the resonance point of a column of air. Then they will use a simple formula to find the speed of sound.

Required Equipment
Tuning Forks Set, 1000ml Graduated Cylinder, Resonance Tube, Meter Stick, Rubber Band

Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Complete Set of Tuning Forks

In Stock SKU: P7-5000
$79.00

1000ml Polypropylene Cylinder

In Stock SKU: 06-3046
$12.00

Resonance Tube

In Stock SKU: PX-2085
$2.95

Meter Stick 6 pack

In Stock SKU: P1-7072
$18.00
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Speed of Sound in Air


In this lab students will measure the amount of time for a series of echoes, and calculate the time for one echo. They will then experimentally determine the speed of sound in air. An extension activity asks students to compare the speed of sound in air to that in concrete or another solid material.

Required Equipment
Stopwatch, Trundle Wheel

Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Digital Stopwatch Timer

In Stock SKU: 52-3200
$9.95

Trundle Wheel

In Stock SKU: 01-8019
$19.95
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