ALEX Learning Activity

Making Waves

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

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Lisa Rhinehart
System:Pell City
School:Pell City Board Of Education
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1634
Making Waves
Digital Tool/Resource:
Wave Traits
Web Address – URL:

The digital tool demonstrates the properties of a wave and defines each of the following terms: frequency, amplitude, wavelength, crest, trough, energy, and Hertz. 

Students will sketch an ocean scene on a 4x6 note card that depicts a large wave moving toward a beach. Then, the students will label the parts of the wave and write the definitions to the terms on the back of the note card as they discuss the interactive digital tool.  

This learning activity was created as a result of the Girls Engaged in Math and Science University, GEMS-U Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
17 ) Create and manipulate a model of a simple wave to predict and describe the relationships between wave properties (e.g., frequency, amplitude, wavelength) and energy.

a. Analyze and interpret data to illustrate an electromagnetic spectrum.

Learning Objectives:

The students will...

  • identify wave properties such as crest, trough, wavelength, amplitude, and frequency.
  • describe the relationship between frequency, amplitude, and wavelength.
  • create a model of a wave.
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  
Before/Engage, During/Explore/Explain

Prior to watching the digital tool, give students a 4x6 note card and instruct them to draw a large wave moving toward a beach. The teacher may need to model this on the board in order for the wave to have a trough, wavelength, and crest. Next, have the students create a beach scene.

As the students watch the digital tool, "Wave Trait," they will label the card and write the definition the each of the terms on the back of the card. (The video may need to be paused for the slower students in the class so they have time to write the information).

Once all the students have finished with their cards, then have the students to turn and talk to a peer and share their illustrations.

  1. Next, have all the students to line up and join hands. (They will be doing the wave.)
  2. At different intervals say stop and ask a student to identify if his or her hand is at a trough or crest.
  3. Repeat the wave motion but speed up the command and ask a student to describe his or her observations.
  4. Continue to play the wave activity until students have a good understanding of the properties of a wave.

See link for more details:


Whole Group Instruction:

  • A rope (at least 10 feet long)
  • Two student volunteers
  • Piece of tape (colored tape works best)

1. Put a piece of tape in about the middle of the rope.

2. Tie the rope to something or let the student hold on to one end of it.

3. Pull the rope so that it is a bit slack but not quite touching the floor.

4.  Instruct the student to move his or her arm up and down. 

5. Repeat the motion at a faster pace (not too fast) and see the results. Be sure to point out the action of the tape in the middle of the rope.

6. Whole group discussion based on the observations of the class related to wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. 

Individual Wave Model:

Materials: yarn, construction paper, ruler, and glue

Give students a sheet of construction paper and tell them to write a title:

Transverse Wave

Next, students will draw a straight line across the middle of the construction paper about 8 inches long. 

This will be the resting point of the wave.

Now, the students will glue/tape the yarn to create a wave that has various frequencies, wavelengths, and amplitudes. 

Finally, have the students to label their model.

Assessment Strategies:

Students will be informally assessed as they play the wave game.

Students will be assessed on their creation of a model of the wave and the identification of its components.

Students will write a paragraph at the bottom of their wave model explaining how energy increases and decreases as amplitude and frequency increases and decreases.

Advanced Preparation:

Each student will need a 4 x 6 note card.

Colored pencils (optional)

The teacher will need access to a projector for whole group instruction. 

Whole Group Instruction of a Wave Materials:

  • A rope (at least 10 feet long)
  • Two student volunteers
  • A piece of tape (colored tape works best)

Individual Wave Materials:

Construction Paper (1 sheet per student)

24-inch piece of yarn (1 per student)


liquid glue or clear tape (groups may share)

Variation Tips (optional):

The following video will help the visual and musical learners in the classroom understanding the scientific concepts of this activity.

"Sound & Light Waves" on

This digital tool can also be completed one-on-one if students have access to a digital device.

The art portion of the activity can also be substituted with the image from the digital tool if time is an issue.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

The digital tool moves at a quick pace so I suggest that it is stopped after each term, so students have sufficient time to write.

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