Recommended for High School through College.
The goal of this activity is for students to identify and predict the effect of string tension, string length, and linear density of a string on the wave velocity through that string. From their investigation of one of these factors students will, as a class, construct a model that shows the relationship between these factors.
In the Preliminary Observations, students will observe a stringed instrument or hollow box with rubber bands across an open side. Students should identify a couple of factors that may influence the wave speed on the strings such as string tension, thickness/weight of string, and string length.
During their investigations, students will determine the relationship between one factor and wave speed. Since groups may be investigating different factors, you will need a class discussion after the investigations to summarize the class's findings.
We recommended a specific equipment setup in order to narrow the focus of the investigation. However, students should be encouraged to consider other approaches that effectively isolate the variable of interest.
- Design and perform an investigation.
- Draw a conclusion from evidence.
- Identify string tension and mass per unit length as the determining factors of wave speed on a string.
- Create a model for factors affecting wave speed on a string.
Sensors and Equipment
This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.
You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?
Next Generation Science Standards
Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS4.A Wave Properties
- Cause and Effect
- Systems and System Models
- Energy and Matter
Science and Engineering Practices
- Developing and Using Models
- Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
- Analyzing and Interpreting Data
- Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
- Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information