Website Detail Page
published by the Physics Education Technology Project
Available Languages: English, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese
This webpage contains an interactive simulation that allows users to study Fourier series expansions of waves. The amplitude of up to 11 harmonics may be selected for a wave in one dimension, allowing users to create a variety of wave functions. Waves can be examined as a function of space, time, or both, and tools are provided for measuring wavelengths and periods. Functions of sine and cosine may be used. Users can also choose to display mathematical equations describing their waves in three different forms. The limit of Fourier integrals and continuous wave packets can also be examined. In addition to constructing their own waves, users can also play a wave game and try to match a given pattern by selecting the Fourier amplitudes.
The page also contains a teacher's guide as well as user-submitted idea and activities for use with this simulation.
This page is part of a large and growing collection. It has been designed using principles from physics education research and refined based on student interviews.
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PhET Simulation: Fourier: Making Waves:
Is a Teaching Guide For Physics Classroom: Interference and Beats
Is a Teaching Guide For Physics Classroom: Fundamental Frequency and Harmonics
Is a Student Extra Of Physics Classroom: Fundamental Frequency and Harmonics
Is a Student Extra Of Physics Classroom: Interference and Beats
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Is a Teaching Guide For