This HTML5 activity simulates the motion of a vibrating string as well as ideas for activities involving this simulation. The end of the string can be moved using the mouse or driven by an oscillator to set up traveling or standing waves. The string is modeled as a series of interacting masses. The tension of the string, damping, and frequency and amplitude of the oscillator can be adjusted. Measurements can be made with rulers and a stop watch.
This item is part of a larger collection of simulations developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET). See Related items on this page for a link to clicker questions and a unit of instruction developed specifically to accompany PhET simulations involving wave motion.
Please note that this resource requires
at least version 8 of
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer (MS-PS4)
Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave. (MS-PS4-1)
Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials. (MS-PS4-2)
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer (HS-PS4)
Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media. (HS-PS4-1)
Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)
Wave Properties (PS4.A)
A simple wave has a repeating pattern with a specific wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. (6-8)
The wavelength and frequency of a wave are related to one another by the speed of travel of the wave, which depends on the type of wave and the medium through which it is passing. (9-12)
Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)
Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships. (6-8)
Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data. (6-8)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems. (6-8)
Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models. (9-12)
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)
Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
Analyzing data in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to extending quantitative analysis to investigations, distinguishing between correlation and causation, and basic statistical techniques of data and error analysis. (6-8)
Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. (6-8)
Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)
Analyze data using computational models in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims. (9-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
Develop a model to describe unobservable mechanisms. (6-8)
Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
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/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).
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.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
9-12: 11B/H1a. A mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.
%0 Electronic Source %D October 1, 2008 %T PhET Simulation: Wave on a String %I PhET %V 2020 %N 8 August 2020 %8 October 1, 2008 %9 text/html %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/wave-on-a-string
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A set of clicker questions, pre-lab and post-lab questions specifically developed for use with the PhET simulation "Wave On A String". It was designed for beginners or non-science majors with little or no background in physics.