• 1. Provide students with a key.
    Write the following key on the board for students to refer to as they complete the activity:
    crest = top of wave
    wave trough = lowest point between each crest
    wave height = distance between crest and trough
    wavelength = distance from crest to crest or trough to trough

    2. Have students experiment with creating waves of different sizes.
    Have students use the Wave Simulator interactive to shape waves and see how they affect a boat at rest, in an area with no current. Model for students how to adjust the wave height, wavelength, and wave period and how to recognize how those changes affect the waves and boat. Then have students use the interactive in pairs.

    3. Have students reflect on their experience.
    First, ask pairs to describe how they used the interactive. Then ask: What did you have to change to make the waves bigger? Smaller? Faster? Slower? What did you have to change to make lots of waves? A few?

  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • use an interactive tool to create waves
    • reflect on their experience

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Simulations and games
    • Visual instruction

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    • Critical Thinking Skills
      • Applying
      • Remembering
      • Understanding

    Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 7:  The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface

    National Science Education Standards

  • What You’ll Need

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Required
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per small group
    • Plug-Ins: Flash


  • Background Information

    Waves are the movement of water. Watching the movement of waves helps you to understand their patterns.

    Prior Knowledge

    • None

    Recommended Prior Activities


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    crest Noun

    the top of a wave.

    current Noun

    steady, predictable flow of fluid within a larger body of that fluid.

    Encyclopedic Entry: current
    wave Noun

    moving swell on the surface of water.

    wave height Noun

    the distance between a wave's trough and crest.

    wavelength Noun

    the distance between the crests of two waves.

    wave trough Noun

    the lowest part of a wave.