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written by Kyle Forinash and Wolfgang Christian
This is a set of 30 interactive tutorials on the fundamentals of waves, appropriate for AP level or for students who have adequate preparation in advanced algebra/trigonometry.  It starts with very simple wave properties and ends with nonlinear wave behavior.  The author's emphasis is on properties/behaviors of waves which are hard to understand by looking at a textbook page; for example, wave interference, collision with boundaries (reflection), the motion of water waves, and addition of linear waves.  Each of the tutorials contains a Java simulation of the wave process being discussed, plus a set of problems to encourage self-paced exploration.
Editor's Note: The first 10 tutorials can be adapted for use in Physics First or conceptual physics courses. As the lessons progress into polarization and non-linearity, both the reading and mathematics levels become more appropriate for AP physics. This resource could also be quite helpful to new and crossover teachers desiring a refresher in the properties and behavior of waves.
34 supplemental documents are available
2 source code documents are available
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Modeling
- Geometrical Optics
- Polarization
Oscillations & Waves
- General
- Wave Motion
= Doppler Effect
= Impedance and Dispersion
= Interference and Diffraction
= Longitudinal Pulses and Waves
= Phase and Group Velocity
= Reflection and Refraction (Sound)
= Standing Waves
= Transverse Pulses and Waves
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Collection
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Tutorial
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
  • Currently 5.0/5

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Free access
© 2002 Kyle Forinash
fundamentals of waves, group velocity, wave behavior, wave dispersion, wave interference
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created August 17, 2005 by kyle forinash
Record Updated:
August 9, 2020 by Bruce Mason
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 9, 2005
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 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).
  • 9-12: 4F/H5ab. The observed wavelength of a wave depends upon the relative motion of the source and the observer. If either is moving toward the other, the observed wavelength is shorter; if either is moving away, the wavelength is longer.
  • 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.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

High School — Algebra (9-12)

Creating Equations? (9-12)
  • A-CED.2 Create equations in two or more variables to represent relationships between quantities; graph equations on coordinate axes with labels and scales.
  • A-CED.4 Rearrange formulas to highlight a quantity of interest, using the same reasoning as in solving equations.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • 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.9 Compare properties of two functions each represented in a different way (algebraically, graphically, numerically in tables, or by verbal descriptions).
Trigonometric Functions (9-12)
  • F-TF.5 Choose trigonometric functions to model periodic phenomena with specified amplitude, frequency, and midline.?

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11—12 texts and topics.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: Teaching About Waves and Wave Energy

New and crossover teachers often appreciate a way to "see" physics beyond the pages of a textbook.  This interactive tutorial covers every topic typically studied in an introduction to Waves.  There are 20 sequenced tutorials, each with a discussion of one focused idea, a Java simulation that depicts that idea, and self-guided questions at the end.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: Teaching About Waves and Wave Energy

Many students benefit from a simulation-based exploration of physics phenomena that allows them to self-pace.  This is a set of 20 sequenced tutorials on the topic of Waves, developed to promote understanding of processes that can't be visualized in a textbook illustration.  Each tutorial has a discussion section, a Java simulation the students can manipulate, and self-guided questions at the end.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
K. Forinash and W. Christian, (2002), WWW Document, (https://kforinas.pages.iu.edu/WJS/WavesJS.html).
K. Forinash and W. Christian, Waves: An Interactive Tutorial, (2002), <https://kforinas.pages.iu.edu/WJS/WavesJS.html>.
APA Format
Forinash, K., & Christian, W. (2005, August 9). Waves: An Interactive Tutorial. Retrieved August 11, 2020, from https://kforinas.pages.iu.edu/WJS/WavesJS.html
Chicago Format
Forinash, Kyle, and Wolfgang Christian. Waves: An Interactive Tutorial. August 9, 2005. https://kforinas.pages.iu.edu/WJS/WavesJS.html (accessed 11 August 2020).
MLA Format
Forinash, Kyle, and Wolfgang Christian. Waves: An Interactive Tutorial. 2002. 9 Aug. 2005. 11 Aug. 2020 <https://kforinas.pages.iu.edu/WJS/WavesJS.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Kyle Forinash and Wolfgang Christian", Title = {Waves: An Interactive Tutorial}, Volume = {2020}, Number = {11 August 2020}, Month = {August 9, 2005}, Year = {2002} }
Refer Export Format

%A Kyle Forinash
%A Wolfgang Christian
%T Waves: An Interactive Tutorial
%D August 9, 2005
%U https://kforinas.pages.iu.edu/WJS/WavesJS.html
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Forinash, Kyle
%A Christian, Wolfgang
%D August 9, 2005
%T Waves: An Interactive Tutorial
%V 2020
%N 11 August 2020
%8 August 9, 2005
%9 application/java
%U https://kforinas.pages.iu.edu/WJS/WavesJS.html

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