Arbor Scientific is providing physics and physical science teachers with a collection of student lab activities for the study of Waves. Here you can browse lab activities by title and get teachers notes, student worksheets and a list of equipment and supplies needed for each activity.

Tuning Fork Interference

Tuning Fork Interference
Two waves, when traveling through the same medium, will superimpose upon one another, causing interference. In the case of sound, the two sounds will combine to form a single sound. This lab asks students to combine the sounds from two tuning forks (which each produces a simple sine wave vibration) and observe the results. Audioscope software provides a unique opportunity to see the waveforms and frequencies that make up a complex sound.

Required Equipment
Tuning Forks Set, Audioscope Software, Computer with Microphone
Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Complete Set of Tuning Forks

In Stock SKU: P7-5000
$79.00
Read more...

Slinky waves

Galileo's Incline plane lab activity for acceleration.

Students investigate properties of mechanical waves using a “slinky” spring: wavelength, speed, reflection, standing waves, interference.

Good for grade levels 5 through 8

Required Equipment
Super Springy, Stopwatch, String, Masking Tape, Helical Spring

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Dwight “Buzz” Putnam for his assistance in developing this lab. Buzz is a 25 year veteran physics teacher at Whitesboro High School, New York Science Teacher of the Year and Host of the Regents Physics Answers television show on PBS. You can also find him refereeing high school basketball games as well as presenting at the NSTA National Conferences.

Physics Teacher "Buzz" Putnam

Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Super Springy

In Stock SKU: 33-0130
$12.95

Helical Spring

In Stock SKU: 33-0140
$19.50

Digital Stopwatch Timer

In Stock SKU: 52-3200
$9.95

Roll of String

In Stock SKU: PX-2134
$3.90

The “Masking Tape” required for this lab is readily available at your office or school supply store. Each lab group would need one roll or access to a roll.

Read more...

Refraction and Total Internal Reflection

Refraction and Total Internal ReflectionStudents will be able to observe that refraction (bending) always takes place at the interface between two different transparent materials and that the angle of refraction in plastic is smaller than the angle of incidence in air. The light is directed at the center of the semicircular cup where it is bent along a radius and exits the element without bending a second time. Careful measurement of the incident angle and the refracted angle will produce data which may be used to compute a constant ratio of the sine of the angles. 
Required Equipment
Refraction Cup, Light Box and Optical Set with Power Supply or Laser Ray Box, Protractor, Water.
Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Refraction Cup

SKU: P2-1230
$2.75

Light Box and Optical Set

In Stock SKU: P2-9561
$139.00

Light Box Power Supply

In Stock SKU: P4-7250
$69.00

Protractor

In Stock SKU: P1-1050
$1.30

The “water” required for this lab can be any tap or bottled water. Each lab would need about 1 pint.

Read more...

Waves on a Helical Spring

Waves on a Helical Spring

Students investigate properties of mechanical waves using a helical spring: wavelength, speed, reflection, standing waves, interference. Neither amplitude nor frequency affects wave speed. As wave frequency goes up, wavelength goes down, and vice versa. Wave pulses can interfere constructively (adding together when on the same side of the spring) or destructively.

 

Required Equipment
Helical Spring, Stopwatch, String
Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Helical Spring

In Stock SKU: 33-0140
$19.50

Digital Stopwatch Timer

In Stock SKU: 52-3200
$9.95

Roll of String

In Stock SKU: PX-2134
$3.90

Read more...

Wave Motion

Wave MotionStephen RaeIt’s the “wow” when kids realize the demo isn’t just entertainment…“We can’t drill to the center of the Earth, so how do we know about its crust, mantle, inner and outer core? How can we find the epicenter of an earthquake? I demonstrate how we make inferences as sound waves interact with boundaries. Students see the moment when the Super Springy bounces back and they get really excited!”

David Burch has taught for 39 years at Eastern Greene Middle School and High School in Bloomfield, Indiana and is a regular presenter at state and NSTA conventions.
How Do Waves Travel Through a Medium?

Use the Super Snaky helical spring and Super Springy slinky to model P-waves and S-waves.

1. P-Waves (longitudinal): While you and a student hold opposite ends tightly, stretch “Snaky” approximately 25 feet. DON’T LET GO! With your free hand, reach out onto the stretched Snaky about 12” and compress the coils back to the end. Release the coils to produce a fast-moving P-wave. Wave propagation is the same as the direction of vibration. Note that these waves characteristically travel through the crust of the Earth faster than S-waves from the focus point of an earthquake.

Longitudinal Wave

2. S-Waves (transverse): Use the same set-up and tension as above. To produce a single transverse wave, make a single up-down motion on the end of the Snaky. Then, make one side-to-side motion. For both, the wave propagation is perpendicular to the direction of vibration. Ask students which travels faster: P- or S-waves.Transverse Wave

3. Reflected Waves: Using masking tape, connect the first coil of Super Springy to the first coil of a plastic slinky of roughly the same diameter. On a slick floor or long tabletop, pull back on the plastic slinky end and release a few coils to make a P-wave. Watch closely where the slinkies join: you will see a reflected wave bounce back into the plastic slinky! This is the kind of reflected wave seismologists use to see the boundary between the Earth’s crust and mantle and make calculations about earthquakes.


Required Equipment
Helical Spring, Super Springy, Masking Tape


Recommended quantity per lab group: 1

Timer & PhotogatesHelical Spring
33-0140

2cm diameter, 180cm long (collapsed) helical spring. “Snaky” is ideal for demonstrating fundamentals of wave theory, including transverse and longitudinal waves and wave behavior at the interface of two media.

Click here to get it >>


Recommended quantity per lab group: 1

Car & RampSuper Springy
33-0130

This extra-long version of the familiar and always popular spring toy provides an excellent demonstration of wave theory. Measuring 75mm in diameter, with a length of 150mm, the Super Springy stretches to 10 meters.

Click here to get it >>

Read more...