Seeing Sound Waves using Light

Using the properties of sound waves, we’ll be able to actually see sound waves when we aim a flashlight at a drum head and pick up the waves on a nearby wall. This is a really neat experiment to do in the dark with your favorite music!

Here’s what you need:

  • empty soup can
  • balloon
  • small mirror
  • tape
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • laser or flashlight

You will be adjusting the length of string of a pendulum until you get a pendulum that has a frequency of .5 Hz, 1 Hz and 2 Hz. Remember, a Hz is one vibration (or in this case swing) per second. So .5 Hz would be half a swing per second (swing one way but not back to the start). 1 Hz would be one full swing per second. Lastly, 2 Hz would be two swings per second. A swing is the same as a vibration so the pendulum must move away from where you dropped it and then swing back to where it began for it to be one full swing/vibration.