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+ Waves Waves

Author: Jason Fritz

Describe properties of waves, including speed, wavelength, frequency and amplitude.

Explain how the vibration of particles in air and other materials results in the transfer of energy through sound waves.

Use wave properties of light to explain reflection, refraction and the color spectrum.

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What Are Waves?

1. What is this picture showing?
2. Describe the movement of waves in this photo. 
3. How is it the same as the movement of a giant ocean wave? How is it different?
4. How do the waves move through the water in this photo?

Source: McGraw/Hill

Chapter 15: Waves

Lesson 1 What are waves?
Lesson 2 Wave Properties
Lesson 3 Wave Interactions

Source: McGraw/Hill

Chapter 15: Waves Quick Vocab


Source: McGraw/Hill

Big Amplitude - "Baby I Love Your Wave

Parody of "Baby, I Love Your Way" by Big Mountain (originally by Peter Frampton), from Bill Nye the Science Guy, Season 3 episode 11 (51st episode in series).

Source: Bill Nye the Science Guy

Transverse Waves Presentation

Transverse Waves

A wave is some sort of physical disturbance that carries energy from one place to another without carrying matter. In this animation a hand moves a slinky up and down to illustrate a transverse wave, a type of wave where the disturbance is at right angles to the direction the wave travels.

Another example is: When fans “do the wave” at a stadium, the disturbance is the motion of the fans rising from their seats, standing, and then returning to their seats. The motion of the fans is up and down, while the disturbance travels around the stadium.

Longitudinal Waves

A wave is some sort of physical disturbance that carries energy from one place to another without carrying matter. Sound and light are two very common waves we encounter that have some similarities and some important differences.

One important aspect of a type of wave is how the disturbance moves relative to the direction the wave is traveling. In this silent animation a hand compresses a slinky to start a compression or longitudinal wave, a type of wave where the disturbance lines up with the direction the wave travels.

Waves in a Minute

How Science Explains Monster Waves

Rogue waves - enormous, spontaneous surface waves in the open ocean - were once the tall tales of sailors. They are waves that reach 2-3x taller than the largest average waves in the area, reaching heights of 75 – 100ft. With the help of a ESA satellite survey, the scientific community now accepts they happen frequently. What causes rogue waves?

Source: Physics Girl

Brian Greene Explains The Discovery Of Gravitational Waves World Science Festival

A landmark day for Einstein and our understanding of the universe: the detection of gravitational waves. Brian Greene explains the discovery.

Source: World Science Festival

Laws of Reflection

You will learn about "Laws of Reflection" in this video. Consider this ray of light which strikes a mirror. This ray of light is called the incident ray. The point at which the incident ray strikes the mirror is called point of incidence. Draw a line perpendicular to the mirror through the point of incidence. This line is called Normal. The angle which the incident ray makes with the normal is called the angle of incidence. When this ray strikes the mirror, it will bounce off the mirror. This ray which bounces off is called the reflected ray. The angle which the reflected ray makes with the normal is called angle of reflection. Now, let us study the 2 laws of reflection. The angle of incidence is always equal to the angle of reflection. If the angle of incidence is 30 degrees, then the angle of reflection will also be 30 degrees. Remember that, these angles are always measured from the normal, not from the mirror. The incident ray, the normal at the point of incidence and the reflected ray, all lie in the same plane.

Source: Smart Learning for All

A Self-Guided Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Source: NOVA Online

Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum


Source: NASA

The Electromagnetic Spectrum: NASA

Few of us ever consider the similarity of light and radio waves, nor do we think of them in terms of radiation. In fact, visible light and radio waves make up part of a large category of radiation that physicists call electromagnetic waves. This video segment from NASA explores the electromagnetic waves that constitute the electromagnetic spectrum, comparing the different types of electromagnetic waves and explaining how each type of radiation affects our daily lives.

The Speed of Light in Glass

Source: MinutePhysics

How to break the speed of light

Source: MinutePhysics

Is Your Red The Same as My Red?

Source: Vsauce

Rainbow Science! ... AND Why Headphones Get So Tangled

Source: Vsauce

Waves Comic Card


Nikola Tesla: Great Minds

Hank brings us the tale of the bizarre and eccentric genius with the crazy eyes who spent his life increasing awesome wherever he went, and contributed in some way to pretty much every cool invention you can think of. Nikola Tesla spoke eight languages and, at the time of his death, held over 700 patents and was being investigated by the US government for claiming to have invented a 60 million volt death ray. Tesla was an undisputed genius, and SciShow gold.

Source: SciShow

Electromagnetic Spectrum Song

Parody of "Hey Baby" by Pitbul

Source: Mr. Parr

What is the Wave/Particle Duality? Part 1

Source: MinutePhysics

Light Wave Behaviors

In this interactive activity adapted from NASA, learn about the properties of light and how light behaves when it encounters matter. Animations and diagrams illustrate how light is absorbed, transmitted, reflected, refracted, scattered, or diffracted. Learn how the composition and shape of the object, as well as the characteristics of the light, affect how light behaves. In addition, learn how observing these behaviors of light can provide information about extraterrestrial objects, such as the topography of a planet or the spectral signature of a galaxy.

Source: PBS Learning Media

Waves on a String

Source: Phet

The Wave/Particle Duality - Part 2

Source: MinutePhysics

Sound Tutorial


Safari Montage Video

Bill Nye: Waves

Bill Nye the Science Guy examines all kinds of waves in this episode of the Emmy Award-winning Disney Channel series, featuring an interactive question-and-answer format and hands-on activities. In this episode, Bill explores sound waves, light waves, seismic waves, energy waves and more.

21 min 47 sec.

Characteristics of Waves 

Waves are disturbances that transfer energy from place to place. All waves have amplitude, wavelength and frequency regardless of whether they are mechanical waves, electromagnetic waves or waves in the ocean! Students will learn more about the role waves play in everyday life and why understanding them is so important. With fun demonstrations and a hands-on activity, these concepts are more easily understood. One of 16 volumes in the Physical Science in Action Video Series in the Schlessinger Science Library. Part of the Schlessinger Science Library in Action Collection.

24 min 32 sec.

Electromagnetic Energy

What do radios, microwave ovens and X-ray machines have in common? They all use different forms of electromagnetic energy to do work. In Electromagnetic Energy, learn that cosmic rays from space and visible light are also part of the family of energy waves known as the electromagnetic spectrum. Discover that electromagnetic energy travels in waves through space and can also move through solid materials. Fast-paced visuals and dynamic graphics help explain that the size of the waves determines their position in the spectrum as well as how much energy they contain. A fun demonstration illustrates that magnetic and electric forces are different aspects of electromagnetic energy, while a hands-on investigation proves that a light bulb radiates both visible light and infrared waves. Part of the multi-volume Energy in Action Video Series.

23 min 42 sec.

Real World Science: Light

Featuring real world demonstrations and colorful graphics, this educational, live-action program teaches children all about light, including the different properties of light, pertinent definitions and how light travels. Looks at how different mediums can affect light, resulting in reflection, refraction and absorption, and explores the color spectrums using prisms and paints. Covers waves, particles, wavelengths, frequency and amplitude. 

17 min 13 sec

On My Wavelength

Antennas are the eyes and ears of everything we do, transmitting radio waves to link our cell phones, televisions and other electronics. These radio waves carry energy through the air between antennas, sending information like images and voices. Every system operates on its own specific wavelength, so it needs an antenna designed to receive that wave. Engineers at an Air Force research lab in Dayton, Ohio, are designing, building and testing antennas in many shapes and sizes to go on airplanes, inside radios and even on huge towers. This work is a great example of engineering, says Rey Febo: ''putting math and science into something that we will be able to use in our life.'' 

4 min 38 sec


We use light every day of our lives, from playing music on CDs to performing surgery with lasers to making phone calls over fiber-optic cables. In this live-action program, the electromagnetic spectrum, radiation, and how light travels are all explained and properties of light, such as reflection and refraction, are defined. Viewers will see how the human eyes work with color and light and learn about inventions such as the light bulb as well technological applications of light. 

15 min 20 sec

Bill Nye: Light Optics

Bill Nye the Science Guy reflects, refracts, bends, bounces, absorbs, and pulls light waves to show how things can be seen in different ways. Using lenses, mirrors, and water, Bill's optical illusions are sights to behold. This live-action, fast-paced program also features comedy, music videos, interviews with real scientists, and hands-on experiments to make the concepts presented understandable and fun. 

22 min 41 sec


In Light, young Olive and her cousin, Troy, learn all about the properties of light with the help of a visiting inventor and a room full of his crystal trophies. They discover that light behaves in different ways to change the way we see things. When light waves hit something, three things can happen: the light can bounce, it can pass through or it can be absorbed. Troy, Olive and the inventor also examine a variety of devices, which use lenses to bend light and help us see images correctly, such as telescopes, periscopes and binoculars. Part of the multivolume series The Way Things Work, based on the best-selling book by David Macaulay. Includes a Teacher's Guide. 

13 min 32 sec

Bill Nye: Light and Color

Bill Nye the Science Guy explores the subjects of light and color in this episode of the Emmy Award-winning Disney Channel series, featuring an interactive question-and-answer format and hands-on activities. In this episode, Bill goes somewhere over the rainbow as he reflects upon light and color. Designed to correlate with National Science Standards, the program includes a teacher's guide filled with suggestions for extension activities and classroom experiments. 

21 min 29 sec


Source: Safari Montage