Waves on a String

Through interaction with this simulation, the student can investigate the behavior of waves on a string. Pulsed and continuous waves can be used to investigate the phenomena of fixed and open-ended reflection. The effect of damping and tension can also be explored. Lesson plan materials for the teacher are provided to suggest uses for this and other wave simulations. That waves carry energy is clearly illustrated by this simulation. The student, either directly or through control of a mechanical device, inputs energy onto the string in the form of a vertical disturbance to create a transverse wave pulse or a continuous transverse periodic wave. The particles on the string clearly do not travel with the wave, although they are obviously displaced in the vertical direction and are thus involved in the transmission of the wave energy. Reflection characteristics can be examined by changing the nature of the wave reflector, and the effect on inversion of the wave pulse can be observed. Adjustment of tension clearly alters wave speed, and the effects of damping can be determined by manipulation of a damping control.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.6.1
Comprehend and summarize the main ideas of informational and technical texts and determine the essential elements that elaborate them.
CLE 3231.3.1
Explore conditions associated with how waves carry energy and simple harmonic motion.
CLE 3231.3.3
Understand wave mechanics.
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.
Learning objectives: 
  • Discuss wave properties using common vocabulary.
  • Predict the behavior of waves through varying medium and at reflective endpoints.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: