Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience > Interactive Lecture Demonstrations > Examples of Teaching with Demonstrations > Slinky and Waves
Explore Teaching Examples | Provide Feedback

Slinky and Waves

This physical model presented by Jeffrey S. Barker, Associate Professor of Geophysics, Pennsylvania State University. Starting Point page organized by R.M. MacKay.

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jan 17, 2006

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


Use a Slinky in interactive lecture demonstration to show:
  • P and S waves.
  • Wave reflection.
  • Standing waves.

Learning Goals

P-waves with a slinky
Learn about and visualize:

Context for Use

Use in an introductory geoscience course where wave properties are important. Examples of such courses include Geology, Oceanography, or Atmospheric Sciences.

Teaching Materials

These links contain good description of physical model and tips for using them effectively in class.

Teaching Notes and Tips

See links in teaching materials above.

The slinky wave also allows one to discuss and visualize such basic wave properties as:


Standard content questions can be developed to assess student understanding of the demonstrated ideas.

References and Resources


Physics:Oscillations & Waves:Wave Motion, Geoscience:Geology:Structural Geology:Rheology/Behavior of Materials, Geoscience:Oceanography:Physical

Resource Type

Activities:Classroom Activity:Short Activity:Demonstration

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Solid Earth:Deformation


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Oceanography, Structural Geology

See more Examples of Teaching with Demonstrations »