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published by the Physics Education Technology Project
Available Languages: English, Spanish, Italian
This HTML5 activity simulates the motion of a vibrating string. Wiggle the end of the string to set up a manual pulse or make waves. Or, choose "Oscillator" and let the simulation create traveling or standing waves. The string is modeled as a series of interacting masses. The tension of the string, damping, and frequency and amplitude of the oscillator can be adjusted. The end can be fixed, loose, or open. Measurements can be made with rulers and a stop watch.
This resource is part of a larger collection developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET). The simulations provide animated, interactive, and game-like environments in which students learn through exploration. All of the simulations are freely available from the PhET web site for incorporation into classes.
Please note that this resource requires at least version 8 of Flash.
Editor's Note: This simulation is robust enough for use in physical science courses ranging from middle school through high school introductory physics. Teachers who register on the PhET website (it's free!) have access to full lessons, activities, and a comprehensive Wave Unit containing Power Point presentations and assessments.
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
11. Common Themes
Next Generation Science Standards
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer (MS-PS4)
Students who demonstrate understanding can: (6-8)
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer (HS-PS4)
Students who demonstrate understanding can: (9-12)
Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)
Wave Properties (PS4.A)
Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)
Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)
Developing and Using Models (K-12)
This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.
Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: Wave Properties: Frequency, Amplitude, Period, Phase
A wonderful way to introduce students to properties of waves. As the students open the applet, they are invited to "wiggle" a string to create a wave. They can set amplitude, frequency, damping, and string tension and watch the variable results. Waves can be manually or automatically generated. Finally, students can view the string's vibration with a fixed end, a loose end, or no end. See related teacher-created activity (directly below), developed for use in middle school classrooms with "Wave On a String".Link to Unit:
Topic: Wave Energy
Unit Title: How Waves Move and Interact: Reflection, Refraction, Interference
This Java applet simulates wave oscillation by using the mouse to drive the motion of a vibrating string. Students can set amplitude, frequency, damping, and string tension and watch the results. Waves can be manually or automatically generated. Finally, students can view the string's vibration with a fixed end, a loose end, or no end.Link to Unit:
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PhET Simulation: Wave on a String:
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: EM Wave Analogy Tutorial
This tutorial was written to supplement the PhET simulation "Wave on a String" to aid students of introductory physics in understanding electromagnetic wave properties.relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Investigating Waves
This item is a four-page student worksheet developed specifically to accompany "Wave on a String". Appropriate for grades 8-9 physical science.relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Wave Demonstrations: Water, Sound, Light
A set of inquiry-based classroom demonstrations for high school physics developed to be used with the PhET simulation "Wave on a String".relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Waves on a String Discovery Activity
A student work activity for grades 9-12 developed specifically to accompany the "Wave on a String" simulation. Freely downloadable and printable for classroom use.relation by Caroline Hall
Is Supplemented By PhET Teacher Ideas & Activities: Wave on a String--The Basics
This is a student guide/worksheet for middle school level, created specifically for use with the "Wave on a String" simulation.relation by Caroline Hall
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