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    Connections Newsletter
    Issue 3                                                                                                                                         Spring Semester 2012


    A Note from the Collaborative Director

    Undergraduate Research: Adjusting to Life at a Liberal Arts College

    2012-2013 McNair Scholars

    Fall-Summer Collaborative Grants

    Convention Spotlight



    • Kaela Gedda
    • Jens Paasen
    • Gretchen Panzer
    • Hannah Schmitt
    • Luanne Spence
    • Sarah Titus

    Collaborative Research Stories


    Important Dates

    May 4, 2012 Student Academic Travel Grant and Attendee Grant applications due

    Collaboratie Research Stories

    "Using Flames to Visualize Sound Waves"

    Jeff LaJeunesse '13 of Green Bay, WI, Physics & Math Majors

     Jon DesChane '12 of Wauwatosa, WI,  Physics & Math Majors

     Faculty Collaborator  Dr. Erik Brekke, Physics Department & Atomic Physics Research Specialist


    Collaborative Research Project Description

    -Our project’s title “Using Flames to Visualize Sound Waves”, explains our research in a simple and effective way. The theory behind it involves basic physics concepts about sound waves such as: frequency, wavelength, and resonance. The use of flames helps to visualize the effect of sound waves moving through a medium. In our Rubens tube, the medium the sound is moving through is propane gas and, when lit, that gas helps to visualize how the sound is affecting the gas as it passes through.laser2

     - The actual tube itself serves as a sound chamber for the sound waves to bounce off of and one-hundred and twenty sixteenth inch holes drilled in a line on top of the tube allow propane gas to leak from the tank and then produce flames. Both ends of the tube are capped with a rubber material which enables sound vibrations to enter the tube. Mounted at one end of the tube is a three inch diameter speaker that introduces different sound waves into the tube. When the tube is filled with propane and lit, the flames coming out will all be the same height. When sound waves are played through the tube, fluctuations of pressure are created and when resonant frequencies are achieved, waves in the flames are visible outside of the tube.


    Background of Project

    -We became interested in the project after seeing various videos on how a Rubens tube can be used to visualize sound waves. We figured that building one would be relatively simple and that the scientific theory behind it would be easily manipulated. Since we are both interested in engineering, we decided that hypothesizing and building a Rubens tube would be a great chance for us to gain hands on experience applying our knowledge of physics theory to a real life system.


    Initial Findings

    -The major thing we gained from this project was how to apply theory to actual real life systems. We gained valuable experience while building and adjusting the Rubens tube to make it work. As everyone finds out, applying theory to real life systems and building those systems doesn’t always go as planned. Experience overcoming these various problems will be extremely helpful to us when we encounter other problems in the future.

    -This project relates to our studies at SNC in that we applied concepts of sound waves that we learned in class to a real life system. This is will be very helpful to our future plans because we are both interested in engineering and applying theory to real life systems is what engineering is all about.

     -What others can take from this is that physics can be applied to basically everything around us in some form or another. This project in particular helps people to understand how sound moves through air by fluctuations of pressure.

     -The outcome of this research project was to gain applicable experience in our field of interest. Currently, we don’t have any plans to publicize our discoveries because the main goal of our project was to be able to build a real life system that expressed scientific theory. From here, we have discussed the possibility of using our Rubens tube to investigate further concepts such as wave interference.


    Faculty Narrative

    This project was really initiated by these two students, who had a strong interest in putting their physics knowledge to use and engineering/constructing a useful and fun demonstration.  I was able to help them plan the equipment needed, and direct them to good resources for understanding the physics involved.  Of course there was plenty of troubleshooting with the equipment while it was being built and tested.  The project turned out very well, providing a wonderful demonstration and helping to illustrate the physics behind wave interference in a very clear and fun manner.




    St. Norbert Collaborative

    Phone: (920) 403-3147
    Fax: (920) 403-4086

    St. Norbert College • 100 Grant Street • De Pere, WI 54115-2099 • 920-337-3181