Imperial College London

Exscitec Blast – balloons, a drainpipe and cardboard


The Formal Photo

Students, mentors, shock tube and pendulum

Through Exscitec programme, eight 11-17 year old pupils spent four days working with Dr William Proud and Dr James Wilgeroth on a shock tube.

Through an Exscitec ( programme, a group of eight 11-17 year-old pupils spent four exciting days working with Dr William Proud and Dr James Wilgeroth to develop, calibrate and use a shock tube.

Exscitec is an organization specialising in educational outreach. This summer it has organised a series of events in Imperial College London, to allow 11-17 year olds the opportunity to experience life at University. There was a strong STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) component to the programme and in one theme twelve groups, each of eight students, dedicated four days to a project. One of the projects was to develop, calibrate then use a Shock Tube, which they made from sections of (new) drainpipe, balloons and cardboard. The volume of balloon containing the driving gas, the volume of the tube and the cross-section of the tube were all varied. Output was measured using the swing of a pendulum made from cardboard and a small metal frame. The results showed that with this simple apparatus it was possible to achieve exit velocities of over 8 ms-1 (25 km per hr). The final day was devoted to presenting results both orally and on posters. Finally all students were presented with badges and certificates to recognise their achievements. More details on Exscitec can be found at

Dr. James Wilgeroth of TRBL CBIS and Dr. Bill Proud of ISP supervised this project.

The Informal Photo

The Informal Photo


Dr William G Proud

Dr William G Proud
Department of Physics

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 5898

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