ALEX Lesson Plan


Waves in Slow Motion

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Stephanie Carver
System: Cullman City
School: Cullman City Board Of Education
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34630


Waves in Slow Motion


This inquiry-based lesson provides an introduction to waves by using water waves to explore patterns of amplitude, wavelength, and frequency.  Students will investigate water waves in slow motion.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

 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.

Local/National Standards:

Scientific and Engineering Practices:  developing and using models

Crosscutting Concepts: patterns

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Learning Targets

I can

  • describe patterns of amplitude and wavelength.
  • develop a model of a wave to show the patterns between amplitude and wavelength.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Per group of four students:

  • small water basin filled with 2-3 inches of water
  • pipette
  • marble
  • ruler
  • cup of water

Technology Resources Needed:

Tablet with video capability in slow motion (one per group)

Video clip of waves in deep water (or any video clip of a wave in deep water)




  1. Show the video of waves in deep water
  2. Think/Pair/Share - Students will discuss the following questions:
    • What is going on in this video?
    • How is the water moving? (Many students will say that the water is moving side to side, but it is actually moving up and down.  This misconception will be addressed during the water wave model activity.)
    • What is causing the water to move?


  1. Distribute materials to each group.  
  2. Allow the students to predict in their science notebooks what they think will happen if we drop one drop of water into the water basin and why.
  3. Have one student video in slow motion the surface of the water as another student drops one drop of water into the basin from 3 inches above the water.
  4. Give the students time to watch the video and answer the following question in their notebook: What happened to the surface of the water when one drop of water was released from 3 inches?
  5. The students will repeat steps 3 and 4 for 6 inches and 12 inches.


Guide a class discussion using the following questions:

  • What happened to the surface of the water when the drop of water was released at 3 inches? 12 inches?
  • Were the waves the same or different? How?
  • What caused the waves?
  • Where did the energy come from and where did it go?

Students will draw a model of a wave in their science notebooks labeling amplitude and wavelength.


Repeat the above experiment using a marble instead of a drop of water.  Students should drop the marble from 3 and 12 inches, and then compare the slow motion videos of the drop of water and the marble.

Discussion questions:

  • Did the marble disturb the surface of the water in the same way as the drop of water?
  • How did the marble affect the amplitude, wavelength, and frequency of the water compared to the drop of water?


Assessment Strategies

This is an introductory lesson so ongoing formative assessment should take place throughout the student discussion time.

The science notebook answers and drawings can be used as an assessment to ensure the standard has been met.

Here is another formative assessment that can be used:

Students will answer the following questions in their science notebook:  What causes the ripples in a lake when a rock is thrown into the lake?  What will happen to the ripples if a larger rock is thrown?


Provide students with a variety of objects that they could test using the procedures from the Elaborate portion of the lesson (penny, nail, golf ball, etc.).


It may be helpful to preview the vocabulary that will come up in the lesson. Providing the terms on cards would help them to visualize the word as they hear you say it during the lesson (amplitude, wavelength, and frequency).

Students may also draw what they see instead of writing to answer the discussion questions.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.