What Technology Are the Students Using That Connects With Waves?

September 11, 2023
David Sunnyside

What technology are the students using that connects with waves?

Students will explore the hidden and ubiquitous world of waves as they investigate mechanical and electromagnetic (EM) waves. Mechanical waves occur as disturbances in any medium or substance. They include everything from ripples in a puddle to giant rolling waves on the open ocean. A plucked guitar string also creates a mechanical wave, as does the converted electrical signal used for communication on a cell phone.

To help students understand that wavelengths are related to frequency and amplitude, PASCO’s String Vibrator, Sine Wave Generator, and Strobe System provide hands-on, interactive demonstrations. Students can experiment with wave speed and wavelength using a power drill to create waves that demonstrate how shorter wavelengths carry more energy. Likewise, longer wavelengths have less energy. They can then compare the results to a simple model of a water wave.

The EM waves that allow for mobile communications are a result of electromagnetic radiation—a form of energy that does not travel through matter. This is why it is important for students to consider the role of electromagnetic radiation in all aspects of our daily lives. The article Electromagnetic Radiation explains the basics of electromagnetic energy, including why we use digital signals rather than analog ones for mobile communications.

The activity Making Mexican Waves demonstrates how waves transfer energy and wave behaviours such as reflection, constructive interference, and shoaling. NIWA's research into generating electricity from strong tidal currents is another example of an application of EM energy.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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