Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Slinky Wave Speeds


A matter wave is different from a moving particle because it is a temporary disturbance that moves through a medium such as a spring, water, or a metal bar. The disturbance can move between two locations without the matter between the locations.

In this activity you’ll be considering disturbances that move along a Slinky that is stretched and then fixed at each end. There are two types of disturbances that can travel along a stretched Slinky: [1] A few coils at one end can be pulled quickly in a direction that is perpendicular or transverse to the line of stretched coils and released; or [2] A few coils at one end can be bunched together in a longitudinal direction along the line of stretched coils and released.


In this activity, you will

  • Study movies that show transverse and longitudinal disturbances moving along a stretched Slinky lying on a very slick (low friction) floor.
  • Think about the process by which the disturbances propagate along the Slinky, measure the wave speeds, and consider what properties of the Slinky will affect the speed of the waves.

Software for Experiment

This experiment uses Logger Pro software for video analysis. The video for analysis is included with the lab book.

Physics with Video Analysis

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Rolling Ball
2Big and Small: How to Scale an Image
3Velocity Change
4Velocity and Speed
5Velocity and Acceleration
6Three Movies: Determining Constant Acceleration
7Demon Drop: A Mathematical Modeling Activity
8Jumping on the Moon
92D Vectors: Pool Ball Displacement, Velocity, and Speed
10Galileo's Projectile I: Using 17th Century Techniques
11Galileo's Projectile II: Using Contemporary Techniques
12Projectile Motion Vectors
13Frictional Slowing
14Impulsive Juggling
15Center of Mass Motions
16Finding a Spring Constant
17Net Work - Kinetic Energy Theorem
19Slinky Wave Speeds
20Superposition of Slinky Waves
21A Wave Pulse Equation
22Doppler Effect: Surface Water Waves
23Doppler Effect: Sound Waves
24A Heat Engine: Relating Work to the P-V Cycle
25Coulomb's Law for Two Charged Spheres
26Discharge Rate
27Electric Field Due to a Line of Charge
28Resistance and Ohm's Law
29Parallel Plate Capacitor: Potential Difference vs. Spacing
30Wiring Capacitors in Series and Parallel
31Using RC Decay to Determine Capacitance
32Exploring Faraday's Law
33Snell's Law of Refraction

Experiment 19 from Physics with Video Analysis Lab Book

<em>Physics with Video Analysis</em> 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.

Buy the Book

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