ALEX Learning Activity


Anatomy of the Wave

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Kimberly Payton
System:Fairfield City
School:Fairfield High Preparatory School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2353
Anatomy of the Wave
Digital Tool/Resource:
YouTube Video: Anatomy of Waves
Web Address – URL:

In this activity, the students will use the “Anatomy of the Wave”  video to learn and answer questions about waves. In the video, students will look at the anatomy of waves and learn vocabulary words such as crests, troughs, wavelength, amplitude, frequency, period, and velocity. Finally, students will develop a model of waves through abstract visual art to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength. 

This resource was created as a part of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
6 ) Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength, and including that waves can cause objects to move.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Developing and Using Models
Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
Disciplinary Core Idea: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Develop a model of waves to describe patterns of amplitude.
  • Develop a model of waves to describe patterns of wavelength.
  • Develop a model of waves that describes patterns that cause objects to move.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Patterns
  • Propagated
  • Waves
  • Wave amplitude
  • Wavelength
  • Net motion
  • Model
  • Relevant components
  • Peaks
Students know:
  • Waves can be described in terms of patterns of repeating amplitude and wavelength (e.g., in a water wave there is a repeating pattern of water being higher and then lower than the baseline level of the water).
  • Waves can cause an object to move.
  • The motion of objects varies with the amplitude and wavelength of the wave carrying it.
  • The patterns in the relationships between a wave passing, the net motion of the wave, and the motion of an object caused by the wave as it passes.
  • How waves may be initiated (e.g., by disturbing surface water or shaking a rope or spring).
  • The repeating pattern produced as a wave is propagated.
  • Waves, which are the regular patterns of motion, can be made in water by disturbing the surface. When waves move across the surface of deep water, the water goes up and down in place; there is no net motion in the direction of the wave except when the water meets a beach.
  • Waves of the same type can differ in amplitude (height of the wave) and wavelength (spacing between wave peaks).
Students are able to:
  • Develop a model to make sense of wave patterns that includes relevant components (i.e., waves, wave amplitude, wavelength, and motion of objects).
  • Describe patterns of wavelengths and amplitudes.
  • Describe how waves can cause objects to move.
Students understand that:
  • There are similarities and differences in patterns underlying waves and use these patterns to describe simple relationships involving wave amplitude, wavelength, and the motion of an object.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.4.6- Using given models, identify patterns found in waves.

Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 4
Visual Arts
2) Collaboratively design and create artwork that has meaning and purpose.

Examples: Create a logo for a school or activity.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Creating
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Process Components: Investigate, Plan, Make
Essential Questions:
EU: Artists and designers shape artistic investigations, following or breaking with traditions in pursuit of creative artmaking goals.
EQ: How does knowing the contexts, histories, and traditions of art forms help create works of art and design? Why do artists follow or break from established traditions? How do artists determine what resources and criteria are needed to formulate artistic investigations?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
  • Constructed environment
  • Cultural traditions
  • Digital format
  • Engagement
  • Tertiary color
  • Preservation
  • Proportion
  • Principles of design
    • Unity
  • Shade
  • Style
  • Tints & shades
Skill Examples:
  • Create a list of multiple ideas, sketches, or thumbnail-sketches before beginning the final version of an artwork.
  • Identify, select, and vary art materials, tools and processes to achieve desired results in their artwork.
  • Brainstorm (alone or with others) potential art styles for a given piece of art, such as Monet's Water Lilies.
  • Create an artwork from direct observation (still-life, self-portrait, figure drawing, etc.).
  • Design a two-dimensional drawings of a futuristic art room, town, or planet
  • Use wood, found objects, wire, paper, or clay-based materials to construct a three-dimensional form.
  • Locate business logos in the community and explore the visual arts skills and materials that were used to create these works.
  • Engage in group critiques of one's work and the work of others.
  • Experiment with art materials by using them in unusual and creative ways to express ideas and convey meaning.
  • Use and care for materials, tools, and equipment in a manner that prevents danger to oneself and others.
  • Mix equal parts of a primary and a secondary color located beside each other on the color wheel to create a tertiary color.
  • Use the design principles of repetition and alignment to add visual unity to an artwork.
  • Create a painting using a monochromatic color scheme by using one color (red) adding white to create a tint (a lighter value--pink) and adding black to the color (red) to create a shade (darker value).
Learning Objectives:

Students will develop a model of waves through abstract visual art to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength.

Students will design scientific artwork that has meaning.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. The teacher will have the students to watch video on the "Anatomy of the Wave"
  2. After the video, The teacher will ask students “Anatomy of the Wave” guided questions
  3. The students will answer the “Anatomy of the Wave” guided questions.
  4. The teacher will have the students use graph paper to draw five different waves with different measurements and answer the extension question.
  5. Next, the students will demonstrate their understanding of the Anatomy of the Wave by creating Wave Abstract Art
  6. On the artwork, have the students develop a model of waves through abstract visual art to describe patterns in terms of one crest, one trough, one wavelength, and one amplitude. 
  7. Finally, the teacher will lead a class discussion describing patterns of a wave in the terms amplitude and wavelength and how waves cause objects to move. 
Assessment Strategies:

The teacher will use the Anatomy of Wave Guided questions and the Wave Abstract Art rubric to assess student learning.

An answer key is provided for the guided questions. 

Advanced Preparation:

  1. Supply Anatomy of the Wave guided questions prior to students watching the video.
  2. Students will need graph paper and art supplies.
  3. Supply students with Wave Abstract Art Guide
  4. Supply each student with Wave Abstract Art Rubrics 
Variation Tips (optional):

As an extension, the teacher could have students identify the wave behavior in the original artwork.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: amplitude, crest, medium, trough, wavelength, waves