Term Project - Ideas
Below I have listed some ideas of what you might do for a term project. Some of these are actual past projects, others are simply things that sound like they might be interesting. You may choose one of these ideas, choose a modification of one of these ideas, or think of something completely different. I would encourage you to be creative, and to investigate something that really interests you. Search the web, encyclopedias, and your physics text book for good ideas.
Investigate the thermal conductivity of air between two pieces of glass, varying their separation (use kinetic theory to gain insight).
Do a study (experimental and/or numerical) of "apodization," a method to improve the resolving power of a telescope.
Compare the harmonics of pipes with different diameters. Try to explain what you find with a mathematical model.
Investigate standing waves in 2D, perhaps calculating (and experimentally verifying) the Chladni patterns for a two dimensional plate.
Measure standing waves in 3D (your shower might work), and analyze the resonant frequencies in terms of wavelengths (k-vectors) in x- y- and z-directions and the equation given in the "milkshake problem".
Write a java applet to demonstrate a principle from the course.
Study nonlinear properties of oscillating systems-- look for shifts in harmonics, variation of freq as function of amplitude, etc., due to string stiffness, damping, etc.
Measure the heat capacity or heat conductivity of different materials. Compare with a calculation based on the theoretical molar heat capacity we discussed in class.
Study convection in a fluid.
Study the propagation of waves in dispersive media (group, phase velocity, etc.).
Learn about viscosity so that you can predict (and then measure) the rate of flow through a narrow pipe.
Study Fourier transforms with a computer; calculate how a string will evolve from a given initial condition.
Investigate the "Faraday Oscillator" model of a blown bottle (perhaps comparing Faraday's model to a 3D resonator model).
Use a computer to take the Fourier transforms of different instruments. Or perhaps sing different vowels. Use what you learn from the Fourier transforms to create an instrument synthesizer or a "vowel synthesizer" using Mathematica or other similar program.
Use an eyedropper to put a drop of oil of known volume into a pan of water. From the colors in the interference pattern, measure the thickness of the oil film after it has spread out over the surface of the water, and measure the diameter of the oil film to calculate the volume of the oil, etc.
Build a film camera using a lens and a cardboard box. (And film.) Calculate the theoretical resolution for your lens size, and put your calculations to the test.
Create a demonstration for a principle discussed in class that could be used in a future semester.
Try to measure both phase and group velocities of water waves.
Build a small hot-air balloon, and predict how much mass it will be able to lift.
Build your own spectrometer, using (for example) a CD as the diffraction grating.