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Lagging Sound

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    The Exploratorium

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Lagging Sound

In this group activity, learners see and hear the speed of sound. A learner designated the "gonger" hits a gong, once every second, as the rest of the group watches and listens from a distance. Learners will discover that light travels faster than sound.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Hammer
  • Gong or piece of metal that will make a very loud sound
  • Meter stick
  • Stop watch
  • Red bandana
  • Earplugs
  • A long, uninterrupted straight away (at least 350 meters)


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
      • Hearing
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Rate
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
      • Light and Optics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Music


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Muller, Eric


  • All Rights Reserved, Exploratorium, ©2002


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