Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Wave Speed on a String


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.

Learning Outcomes

  • 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.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Additional Requirements

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

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • 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

Experiment 27 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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