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ERIC Number: EJ926912
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 12
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Helium Speech: An Application of Standing Waves
Wentworth, Christopher D.
Physics Teacher, v49 n4 p212-215 Apr 2011
Taking a breath of helium gas and then speaking or singing to the class is a favorite demonstration for an introductory physics course, as it usually elicits appreciative laughter, which serves to energize the class session. Students will usually report that the helium speech "raises the frequency" of the voice. A more accurate description of the phenomenon requires that we distinguish between the frequencies of sound produced by the larynx and the filtering of those frequencies by the vocal tract. We will describe here an experiment done by introductory physics students that uses helium speech as a context for learning about the human vocal system and as an application of the standing sound-wave concept. Modern acoustic analysis software easily obtained by instructors for student use allows data to be obtained and analyzed quickly.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A