PhysicsLAB AP Free Response Question
2012 B6

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You are given the apparatus represented in the figure below.
A glass tube is fitted with a movable piston that allows the indicated length L to be adjusted. A sine-wave generator with an adjustable frequency is connected to a speaker near the open end of the tube. The output of a microphone at the open end is connected to a waveform display. You are to use this apparatus to measure the speed of sound in air.
 (a) Describe a procedure using the apparatus that would allow you to determine the speed of sound in air. Clearly indicate what quantities you would measure and with what instrument each measurement would be made. Represent each measured quantity with a different symbol.

 (b) Using the symbols defined in part (a), indicate how your measurements can be used to determine an experimental value of the speed of sound.

 (c) A more accurate experimental value can be obtained by varying one of the measured quantities to obtain multiple sets of data. Indicate one quantity that can be varied, and describe how a graph of the resulting data could be used to determine the speed of sound. Clearly identify independent and dependent variables, and indicate how the slope of the graph relates to the speed of sound.

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