A spiral telephone cord
A jump rope
A container of water with a large surface area
A marble or a pebble
Other appropriate materials that are available (?)
Waves and wavelike motion surround us.
Many phenomenons can be modeled using the wave motion
concepts. Energy, such as light from the sun, travels
in waves. This is a way to bridge the gap between the
physics curriculum of waves and wave motion, and the
environmental health theme of electricity generation
and its trade-offs. This waves introduction will lead
to the study of photovoltaic cells, UV light, and microwaves.
These waves are associated with several environmental
health issues. Understanding the basic physics behind
these energy sources creates an understanding of how
an environmental factor can impact human health. Students
will design an experiment using the materials provided
to explore waves.
Students will be able to:
1. Define amplitude, wavelength, frequency, and period.
2. Calculate the period given the frequency, and calculate
the frequency given the period.
3. Define crest and trough and locate them on a diagram of
4. Differentiate between latitudinal and longitudinal waves.
5. Design an experiment on waves and wave motion.
National Science Education Standard
Content Standard A-Science as Inquiry
ABILITIES NECESSARY TO DO SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
IDENTIFY QUESTIONS AND CONCEPTS THAT GUIDE SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS.
Students should formulate a testable hypothesis and demonstrate
the logical connections between the scientific concepts
guiding a hypothesis and the design of an experiment. They
should demonstrate appropriate procedures, a knowledge
base, and conceptual understanding of scientific investigations.
AND CONDUCT SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS. Designing
and conducting a scientific investigation requires
to the major concepts in the area being investigated,
proper equipment, safety precautions, assistance
problems, recommendations for use of technologies,
clarification of ideas that guide the inquiry, and
obtained from sources other than the actual investigation.
The investigation may also require student clarification
of the question, method, controls, and variables;
student organization and display of data; student
revision of methods
and explanations; and a public presentation of
the results with a critical response from peers.
Regardless of the
scientific investigation performed, students must
use evidence, apply logic, and construct an argument
for their proposed
TECHNOLOGY AND MATHEMATICS TO IMPROVE INVESTIGATIONS
AND COMMUNICATIONS. A variety of technologies,
such as hand tools, measuring instruments, and calculators,
be an integral component of scientific investigations.
The use of computers for the collection, analysis,
and display of data is also a part of this standard.
plays an essential role in all aspects of an
inquiry. For example, measurement is used for posing
are used for developing explanations, and charts
and graphs are used for communicating results.
AND REVISE SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATIONS AND MODELS USING
LOGIC AND EVIDENCE. Student inquiries should culminate
in formulating an explanation or model. Models
physical, conceptual, and mathematical. In
the process of answering the questions, the students
in discussions and arguments that result in
the revision of their explanations. These discussions
should be based
on scientific knowledge, the use of logic,
and evidence from their investigation.
AND ANALYZE ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS AND MODELS.
This aspect of the standard emphasizes the critical
of analyzing an argument by reviewing current
scientific understanding, weighing the evidence,
and examining the
logic so as to decide which explanations
and models are best. In other words, although there
may be several plausible
explanations, they do not all have equal
weight. Students should be able to use scientific
criteria to find the preferred
AND DEFEND A SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENT. Students in school
science programs should develop the abilities
associated with accurate and effective
communication. These include writing and following
procedures, expressing concepts,
reviewing information, summarizing data,
using language appropriately, developing diagrams
and charts, explaining
statistical analysis, speaking clearly
and logically, constructing a reasoned argument,
and responding appropriately to critical
Content Standard B-Physical Science
INTERACTIONS OF ENERGY AND MATTER
including sound and seismic waves, waves on water,
and light waves, have energy and can transfer energy
they interact with matter.
Related and Resource Websites
http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/Class/waves/wavestoc.html (simple tutorial on waves).
1. Organize students into groups of 3 or 4. Have one student
from each group be responsible for getting and returning materials.
Each group should get the following:
length of string
container for water
pebble or marble
2. Let students know they will be experimenting with
waves. They should have some background
knowledge of waves, and
might already know some of the vocabulary
words from the lesson objectives.
Instruct students to discuss with their
groups what they know about waves. Monitor the
get an idea
knowledge and misconceptions. You may
have them create a concept map on what they know
3. After students discussed in their groups,
let them experiment with the materials.
to use their
equipment to generate
waves. Although the experiment is open-ended,
encourage them to record observations and
they have been
given little direction, allow them the
rest of the first day to “explore” and develop a testable question. There
are endless possibilities for testable questions, but here
are some ideas to help the class arrive at the objectives:
- In what material do waves move the fastest or slowest?
- How will a wave behave when traveling through two different
- What determines the length, speed and height of the
latitudinal or longitudinal waves travel faster? (correct
here yet, but students
will see the
- At what rate do waves diminish? What influences
- What happens when two or more waves collide?
There are many, many
more—whatever your students come
4. Monitor the groups
and ensure by the
end of the
each group has a
will be designing
an experiment next
1. Have students
get in their groups,
materials and review their testable question.
2. The groups should
form a hypothesis
based on their
last class. They
an “if….then…” statement.
What do they expect to find from experimenting?
3. Students should
provide a written
and ensure their
experiment idea will
test their hypothesis.
Some guided questions:
will be the procedure?
many variations will be needed for this procedure?
many trials should occur for each variation?
will observations be record?
If hypothesis is supported, what will be the results?
If hypothesis is false, what will be the results?
4. Once the groups have determined an acceptable
experimental procedure, they may begin. Allow
remainder to obtain
5. Watch the clock and allow
a few minutes for them to
get in their
research ellicit more questions and curiosity from the class
for later lessons.
Each group presentation and the notes taken on vocabulary
words serve as lesson ‘s closure. Ask students
to incorporate what they learned into the concept map
they drew at the beginning.
labeling wave parts and period and frequency calculations
and finish lab reports.
knowledge about waves can be assessed in the concept maps created
at the beginning of class. Informal group observations during
design process and exploration provide a venue to assess students’ experiment
design and hypothesis development. The lab report has student
assessment on matching of hypothesis to a test. Students’ concept
understanding can be assessed by appropriate term use in the
lab report and in the final concept map.