Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Speed of Sound


The goal of this activity is for students to devise an experiment that allows them to determine the speed of sound through air.

In the Preliminary Observations, students will observe sound waves that are "delayed" in their arrival, such as seeing a gun flash before hearing it. Students will then estimate how fast sound waves travel through air and devise a method for measuring it. Since groups may choose different methods, you will need to have a class discussion after the investigations to summarize the class's findings.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation.
  • Draw a conclusion from evidence.
  • Estimate the speed of sound.
  • Experience measuring a quantity that does not fit into previous experimental models and requires a novel approach.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

PS4.A Wave Properties

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter
  • Influence of Science, Engineering and Technology on Society and the Natural World
  • Stability and Change

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Experiment 28 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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