Wave Lab Stations, Day 1

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Students will be able to identify the wave phenomena occurring at various lab stations.

Big Idea

Students participate in lab stations about the wave phenomena.

Review Wave Characteristics Worksheet

30 minutes

The goal of this lesson is for students to be able to look at problems, simulations or lab stations and determine the wave characteristic exhibited. This lesson really focuses on students being able to take what they learned from the jigsaw presentations in the previous lesson and apply those ideas to different situations. My goal for the students is for them to be able to identify each wave characteristic/phenomena when given a real-life example. Since this is a lab, students use their carrying out an investigation skills in multiple stations (SP3) as well as looking at data and determining the wave phenomena that they see (SP4). This lab includes using the wave equation at station 1 (HS-PS4-1) and using what they learned about wave-particle duality at station 4 (HS-PS4-3).

To start out class, I have students take out their homework which was to finish the wave characteristics from the previous lesson. I start by having students check with their groups to see if they agree on their answers. After about 5 minutes, I ask students to volunteer answers for each problem. I start with asking one student to identify the wave characteristic, another student to answer the question and another student to give an explanation of that student's answer.

We go through each problem with answers shown on the answer key. Since these problems are sometimes difficult for students, I make sure to emphasize how each student determined the answer to each question. This takes a while and isn't as efficient as whiteboarding, but since students have had less exposure with these topics I find it crucial to lead a discussion review the homework problems with the help of the students. I ask students to take notes in their homework as we go through the problems so they can go back and study these ideas for the test.

Wave Stations

30 minutes

After going over the wave characteristics worksheet, we turn to the Wave Stations Activity. I have the students work in partners. To get them in partners, I pass out playing cards and have them find the person that has the same number as they do. These two students then sit next to each other.

I pass out one packet per lab group and explain that I expect each person to write for 3 of the 6 stations. Then I give a brief explanation of each station is located and where to find the links to the simulations that they can complete on their chromebooks. Then I tell students that they should finish at least 2 stations in this class period. Whatever stations they do not finish in class today they can finish in the next class. 

At Station 1, Speed of Sound Tube, the students go into the hallway where we have tubing that wraps around the hallway. One student talks in one end while the other student times how long it takes until they hear it in the tube. They use information to determine what they time delay should actually be using the speed of sound in air and the distance that the sound travels in the tubes. The goal of this station is to get students working with the equations again and to determine time delay.


At Station 2, students work with water in wine glasses and coke bottles to see the effect of the water on the frequency of sound. With the coke bottles, students blow air across the top of the bottle to produce a sound. Then they add or remove water and observe what happens to the frequency, explaining it in terms of the relationship between wavelength and frequency. With the wine glasses, students rub their finger around the rim of the glass causing it to sound. They add water to the glass and observe what happens to the frequency of the sound. The goal of this station is for students to observe and explain what happens to the frequency in different situations.

At Station 3, students complete a simulation about wave interactions. They first look at what different sound waves look like coming from a speaker with different frequencies. Then they look at what happens when you have two speakers playing the same frequency sound. The goal of this station is to expose students to wave interference.

At station 4, there are two parts that look at whether what we see and hear are optical illusions or science. In Part 1, students look at a straw in a beaker full of water. They draw what they see from the top and the side views. The goal of Part 1 is to show students an example of refraction. In Part 2, students visit a website on their Chromebooks that shows pictures and interactives about how sound, light and water waves exhibit diffraction. The goal of Part 2 is for students to see various examples of diffraction.

At Station 5, students visit this website on their Chromebooks that has them play mini-golf and billiards and try to get the ball into the hole using the walls as surfaces to bounce the ball off of. When students succeed in making the ball into the hole, I ask them to draw the path of the ball. The goal of this station is for students to observe reflection and how the angle of incidence and angle of reflection are equal.

At Station 6, students go to a simulation on their Chromebooks that shows a girl playing the violin on a train that passes a boy at a train station. Students listen from both the violinist's and the bystander's perspectives. They also see if they hear a difference from the bystander's point of view when they change the speed of the train and the note that the violinist is playing. The goal of this station is to give students a real-life example of the Doppler effect.


As students work through the stations at their own pace, I walk around the classroom and answer any questions that students have. Students work at their own pace to make it through at least 2 stations; students return to the remaining stations during the next class period.