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ERIC Number: EJ974133
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jan
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Using a High-Speed Camera to Measure the Speed of Sound
Hack, William Nathan; Baird, William H.
Physics Teacher, v50 n1 p45-47 Jan 2012
The speed of sound is a physical property that can be measured easily in the lab. However, finding an inexpensive and intuitive way for students to determine this speed has been more involved. The introduction of affordable consumer-grade high-speed cameras (such as the Exilim EX-FC100) makes conceptually simple experiments feasible. Since the Exilim can capture 1000 frames a second, it provides an easy way for students to calculate the speed of sound by counting video frames from a sound-triggered event they can see. For our experiment, we popped a balloon at a measured distance from a sound-activated high-output LED while recording high-speed video for later analysis. The beauty of using this as the method for calculating the speed of sound is that the software required for frame-by-frame analysis is free and the idea itself (slow motion) is simple. This allows even middle school students to measure the speed of sound with assistance, but the ability to independently verify such a basic result is invaluable for high school or college students.
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: Higher Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A