Interference of Waves in a Ripple Tank

This online resource provides an entertaining simulation of a ripple tank, into which a faucet drips, producing periodic waves. The student controls frequency of the drips, and can insert various barriers into the tank. Other tabs provide analogous sound and light simulations, enabling the student to see similarities in the behavior of various types of waves. Lesson plans for the teacher are provided on the site. Diffraction and interference are particularly difficult wave phenomena to explain and illustrate without using a classic ripple tank. This simulation of an animated ripple tank provides the student with the opportunity for exploration of these phenomena. The student can insert barriers with adjustable-width slits into the tank, which enables the design of single and double-slit experiments. Particularly powerful is the extension to sound and light; effectively enabling the student to compare a wave that can actually be seen in water with waves that cannot actually be seen but must be visualized.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.5.6
Analyze deductive and inductive arguments.
CLE 3231.3.3
Understand wave mechanics.
CLE 3231.3.5
Explore the characteristics and properties of sound.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: