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This HTML5 activity simulates the motion of a vibrating string. Wiggle the end of the string to set up a manual pulse or make waves. Or, choose "Oscillator" and let the simulation create 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. The end can be fixed, loose, or open. Measurements can be made with rulers and a stop watch.

This resource is part of a larger collection developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET). The simulations provide animated, interactive, and game-like environments in which students learn through exploration. All of the simulations are freely available from the PhET web site for incorporation into classes.

Please note that this resource requires at least version 8 of Flash.
Editor's Note: This simulation is robust enough for use in physical science courses ranging from middle school through high school introductory physics. Teachers who register on the PhET website (it's free!) have access to full lessons, activities, and a comprehensive Wave Unit containing Power Point presentations and assessments.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Oscillations & Waves
- Wave Motion
- High School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Keywords:
amplitude, frequency, harmonic, oscilate, oscillation, oscillator, standing wave, wave
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created May 3, 2006 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 18, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
October 1, 2008
Other Collections:

### Next Generation Science Standards

#### 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 (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

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/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

11B. Models
• 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.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: Wave Properties: Frequency, Amplitude, Period, Phase

This PhET favorite has been converted to HTML5 -- all ready for mobile devices and tablets. As the sim opens, you can "wiggle" a string to set up a manual pulse or make waves. Or, choose "Oscillator" and traveling or standing waves will be auto-generated. Students can set amplitude, frequency, damping, and string tension, then observe the results. Finally, students can view the string's vibration with a fixed end, a loose end, or no end.  See related teacher-created activity (directly below), developed for use in middle school classrooms with "Wave On a String".

Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: How Waves Move and Interact: Reflection, Refraction, Interference

This activity lets students explore the fundamentals of frequency, amplitude, and damping in a simple wave/string system.  Waves can be manually or automatically generated with tension settings from low to high. View the wave as a pulse or as a driven oscillation. Choose a fixed end, loose end, or no end. Values of amplitude and frequency can also be adjusted, giving a great opportunity for bringing in math.

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AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2003), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/wave-on-a-string).
AJP/PRST-PER
PhET Simulation: Wave on a String, (PhET, Boulder, 2003), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/wave-on-a-string>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Wave on a String. (2008, October 1). Retrieved January 19, 2020, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/wave-on-a-string
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Wave on a String. Boulder: PhET, October 1, 2008. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/wave-on-a-string (accessed 19 January 2020).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Wave on a String. Boulder: PhET, 2003. 1 Oct. 2008. 19 Jan. 2020 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/wave-on-a-string>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Wave on a String}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2020}, Number = {19 January 2020}, Month = {October 1, 2008}, Year = {2003} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Wave on a String
%D October 1, 2008
%I PhET
%C Boulder
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D October 1, 2008
%T PhET Simulation: Wave on a String
%I PhET
%V 2020
%N 19 January 2020
%8 October 1, 2008
%9 text/html

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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

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### PhET Simulation: Wave on a String:

Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: EM Wave Analogy Tutorial

This tutorial was written to supplement the PhET simulation "Wave on a String" to aid students of introductory physics in understanding electromagnetic wave properties.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Investigating Waves

This item is a four-page student worksheet developed specifically to accompany "Wave on a String".  Appropriate for grades 8-9 physical science.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Wave Demonstrations: Water, Sound, Light

A set of inquiry-based classroom demonstrations for high school physics developed to be used with the PhET simulation "Wave on a String".

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Waves on a String Discovery Activity

A student work activity for grades 9-12 developed specifically to accompany the "Wave on a String" simulation.  Freely downloadable and printable for classroom use.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Wave on a String--The Basics

This is a student guide/worksheet for middle school level, created specifically for use with the "Wave on a String" simulation.

relation by Caroline Hall

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