Direct Measurement Videos > Video Library > Wave Properties

Wave Properties


This suite of videos acts as an interactive inquiry space where students can explore the properties of mechanical waves. Students can independently vary three variables: wave frequency, wave amplitude, and spring tension. Students can explore which variables affect the others. For example, how does the frequency of a wave affect the speed of a wave? What determines the wavelength of a wave? How does the spring tension affect the speed of a wave?

This video is part of an ISLE cycle learning activity (beta) co-authored by Eugenia Etkina, Matt Vonk, and Peter Bohacek.


Instructor Note

When teaching with this video, direct students to the student video library, which provides student access to all videos without links to instructor materials and solutions.

Multiple videos of mechanical waves in DMV Player

This interactive video space allows students vary three parameters and measure the properties of the resulting wave. Students can select from:

  • five different wave frequencies
  • five different wave amplitudes
  • three spring tensions

These parameters can be adjusted independently. Varying the frequency for example, does not affect the amplitude. This allows students to see the effects of each property of the wave affects others.

Teaching Materials

Sample questions:

  1. Select any combination of frequency, wavelength, and tension. Make measurements that allow you to determine the velocity of the wave.
  2. Select a parameter to vary. For example change either frequency, amplitude, or tension. Measure the speed again. Did the speed change?
  3. Devise a way to discover the pattern. What is the relationship between the parameter (frequency, amplitude, or tension) and the velocity of the wave?
  4. Make a plot of wavelength vs period without varying tension. What does the slope of this line represent?
  5. Predict what a graph of wavelength vs period would look like with a different tension. Can you predict the slope?

More detailed instructional material will be posted here soon.