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written by Tom Henderson
This interactive resource is the third of a 3-part tutorial on the nature of sound waves, developed for introductory physics courses. Words, images and animation are combined to clarify why sound can be characterized as a pressure wave. It goes into detail to describe how compressions in a longitudinal wave are high pressure regions, while rarefactions are low pressure regions.

This tutorial is part of The Physics Classroom website.
Editor's Note: This tutorial addresses a difficulty commonly encountered by students of introductory physics: Why is sound considered a "pressure wave" and what does this mean? The tutorial does a nice job of clarifying the relationship between longitudinal wave motion and pressure/time fluctuations as a sound wave travels through a medium.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Oscillations & Waves
- Wave Motion
= Longitudinal Pulses and Waves
= Wave Properties of Sound
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended User:
Learner
Formats:
text/html
image/gif
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2001 Tom Henderson
No derivatives; commercial use prohibited.
Keyword:
mechanical waves
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created March 11, 2011 by Tom Henderson
Record Updated:
January 29, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 15, 2018

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Wave Properties (PS4.A)
  • A sound wave needs a medium through which it is transmitted. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. (6-8)
  • Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems. (9-12)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
T. Henderson, (2001), WWW Document, (http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-1/Sound-is-a-Pressure-Wave).
AJP/PRST-PER
T. Henderson, Physics Classroom: Sound is a Pressure Wave, (2001), <http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-1/Sound-is-a-Pressure-Wave>.
APA Format
Henderson, T. (2018, January 15). Physics Classroom: Sound is a Pressure Wave. Retrieved August 14, 2018, from http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-1/Sound-is-a-Pressure-Wave
Chicago Format
Henderson, Tom. Physics Classroom: Sound is a Pressure Wave. January 15, 2018. http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-1/Sound-is-a-Pressure-Wave (accessed 14 August 2018).
MLA Format
Henderson, Tom. Physics Classroom: Sound is a Pressure Wave. 2001. 15 Jan. 2018. 14 Aug. 2018 <http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-1/Sound-is-a-Pressure-Wave>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Tom Henderson", Title = {Physics Classroom: Sound is a Pressure Wave}, Volume = {2018}, Number = {14 August 2018}, Month = {January 15, 2018}, Year = {2001} }
Refer Export Format

%A Tom Henderson
%T Physics Classroom: Sound is a Pressure Wave
%D January 15, 2018
%U http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-1/Sound-is-a-Pressure-Wave
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Henderson, Tom
%D January 15, 2018
%T Physics Classroom: Sound is a Pressure Wave
%V 2018
%N 14 August 2018
%8 January 15, 2018
%9 text/html
%U http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/sound/Lesson-1/Sound-is-a-Pressure-Wave


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Citation Source Information

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

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

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