How precisely will you estimate the speed of sound ?
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Author :

Aline Chaillou


The speed of sound calculation uses triggers. This practical work allows the student to get comfortable with programmatic tools to build his experience while at the same time building a scientific reasoning for the calculation.

Sample protocol for the student
1. With your smartphone, can you estimate the speed of sound more accurately than Mersenne, the first to calculate the speed of sound in 1635?
2. Before continuing, do the practical work on the Sound Chronometer which will help you program the triggers
3. Using triggers, program sound stopwatches on two smartphones so that each stopwatch starts when you clap your hands and stops when you clap again
4. Place the two smartphones side by side, then clap your hands to start them
5. Quietly move one of the two laptops from a distance of at least 4 meters. Stand next to that cellphone and clap your hands to stop the two cellphones
6. Does this procedure allow you to calculate the speed of sound? How? 'Or' What ?
7. By accurately measuring the distance and knowing the difference in duration calculated by the two laptops, determine the speed of sound. Repeat several experiments to calculate an average
8. Detail your calculations in your notebook and add a photo.
9. Compare your results to those obtained historically by scientists by researching the internet. Did you take a better measurement than Mersenne?

Find out more

To add this activity to the FizziQ app: 
In the "Activities" tab, press "+", then select "Scan a QR Code" 
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To download the activity on mobile,  in the application, press  "Activities" then "+" then "Internet" which will redirect you to an internet browser. Select a protocol, and click on this link to download: 
You can also download the text file, edit it and then generate a new QR code by following the instructions in this link.