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written by Manjula Devi Sharma
published by the UniServe Science
This resource is a set of activity-based physics tutorials and worksheets on waves and optics, developed for students who have little or no prior background in physics.  It was designed to be implemented in student-centered cooperative learning environments.  The tutorials feature thematic workshops across a broad range of topics relating to wave phenomena, types of waves, sound, simple harmonic motion, electromagnetic spectrum, reflection/refraction, lenses, and mirrors. Workshop Tutorials were deliberately designed to not be part of the formal assessment procedure, allowing students to openly discuss problems in physics and explore solutions in a stress-free environment. Solutions are provided to students as they leave the class, giving them immediate feedback on their ideas.  All materials, including worksheets/solutions and activities, are available in Word and PDF formats.    

Created by the University of Sydney Physics Education Research group (SUPER) this item is part of a larger collection of activity-based physics tutorials.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Cooperative Learning
General Physics
- Collections
- Color
- Geometrical Optics
= Reflection - Flat Surfaces
= Refraction - Flat Surfaces
= Thin Lens
Oscillations & Waves
- Instruments
= Air Column Instruments
- Oscillations
= Damped Oscillators
= Pendula
= Simple Harmonic Motion
- Wave Motion
= Interference and Diffraction
= Longitudinal Pulses and Waves
= Standing Waves
= Transverse Pulses and Waves
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Tutorial
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Educators
- Learners
- application/pdf
- application/ms-word
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Free access
© 2002 Workshop Tutorials for Physics, University of Sydney, Australia
concave lenses, convex lenses, longitudinal wave, mass on a spring, oscillation, reflection, refraction, resonance, sound waves, total internal reflection, transverse wave, tuning fork, wave interference
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created July 13, 2008 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
October 2, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 12, 2007
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

2. The Nature of Mathematics

2A. Patterns and Relationships
  • 9-12: 2A/H1. Mathematics is the study of quantities and shapes, the patterns and relationships between quantities or shapes, and operations on either quantities or shapes. Some of these relationships involve natural phenomena, while others deal with abstractions not tied to the physical world.

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 9-12: 4E/H1. Although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
4F. Motion
  • 3-5: 4F/E3. Light travels and tends to maintain its direction of motion until it interacts with an object or material. Light can be absorbed, redirected, bounced back, or allowed to pass through.
  • 6-8: 4F/M4. Vibrations in materials set up wavelike disturbances that spread away from the source. Sound and earthquake waves are examples. These and other waves move at different speeds in different materials.
  • 6-8: 4F/M6. Light acts like a wave in many ways. And waves can explain how light behaves.
  • 6-8: 4F/M7. Wave behavior can be described in terms of how fast the disturbance spreads, and in terms of the distance between successive peaks of the disturbance (the wavelength).
  • 6-8: 4F/M8. There are a great variety of electromagnetic waves: radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and gamma rays. These wavelengths vary from radio waves, the longest, to gamma rays, the shortest.
  • 9-12: 4F/H6ab. Waves can superpose on one another, bend around corners, reflect off surfaces, be absorbed by materials they enter, and change direction when entering a new material. All these effects vary with wavelength.
  • 9-12: 4F/H6c. The energy of waves (like any form of energy) can be changed into other forms of energy.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

High School — Algebra (9-12)

Creating Equations? (9-12)
  • A-CED.1 Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems. Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • F-IF.1 Understand that a function from one set (called the domain) to another set (called the range) assigns to each element of the domain exactly one element of the range. If f is a function and x is an element of its domain, then f(x) denotes the output of f corresponding to the input x. The graph of f is the graph of the equation y = f(x).
  • F-IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.?
  • F-IF.5 Relate the domain of a function to its graph and, where applicable, to the quantitative relationship it describes.?
  • F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
  • F-IF.7.a Graph linear and quadratic functions and show intercepts, maxima, and minima.
  • F-IF.7.b Graph square root, cube root, and piecewise-defined functions, including step functions and absolute value functions.
Building Functions (9-12)
  • F-BF.3 Identify the effect on the graph of replacing f(x) by f(x) + k, k f(x), f(kx), and f(x + k) for specific values of k (both positive and negative); find the value of k given the graphs. Experiment with cases and illustrate an explanation of the effects on the graph using technology. Include recognizing even and odd functions from their graphs and algebraic expressions for them.
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AIP Format
M. Sharma, (UniServe Science, 2002), WWW Document, (
M. Sharma, Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory (UniServe Science, 2002), <>.
APA Format
Sharma, M. (2007, June 12). Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from UniServe Science:
Chicago Format
Sharma, Manjula. Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory. UniServe Science, June 12, 2007. (accessed 21 June 2024).
MLA Format
Sharma, Manjula. Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory. UniServe Science, 2002. 12 June 2007. 21 June 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Manjula Sharma", Title = {Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory}, Publisher = {UniServe Science}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {21 June 2024}, Month = {June 12, 2007}, Year = {2002} }
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%A Manjula Sharma %T Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory %D June 12, 2007 %I UniServe Science %U %O application/pdf

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%0 Electronic Source %A Sharma, Manjula %D June 12, 2007 %T Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory %I UniServe Science %V 2024 %N 21 June 2024 %8 June 12, 2007 %9 application/pdf %U

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Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Introductory:

Is Part Of Workshop Tutorials for Physics

This is the full collection of activity-based physics materials by the authors, which includes units on mechanics, properties of matter, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, and quantum physics.  Each topic is broken down into introductory and calculus-based levels.

relation by Caroline Hall
Covers the Same Topic (Different Course Level) As Workshop Tutorials for Physics: Waves and Optics - Regular

This is the set of more advanced tutorials on waves and optics by the same authors, designed for students who have completed a high school course in physics.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Part Of Workshop Tutorials for Physics

This is the full collection of workshop tutorials for first-year physics students, developed by University of Sydney physics education group.  Included are materials on mechanics, thermodynamics, nuclear and atomic physics, electricity, and magnetism.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is a Teaching Guide For Physics Classroom: Pendulum Motion

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