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Catch a Wave. By: Catherine Livesay and Diann Musgrove. For the Teacher. Discovering Waves. Lesson Overview. Identify parts of the waves Calculate frequency, amplitude, and wavelength

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catch a wave

Catch a Wave

By: Catherine Livesay and Diann Musgrove

for the teacher

For the Teacher

Discovering Waves

lesson overview
Lesson Overview
  • Identify parts of the waves
  • Calculate frequency, amplitude, and wavelength

In this lesson, students learn about the parts of a wave, and discuss wave height, wavelength, and frequency. They will demonstrate waves using various materials and measure parts of the waves.

instructional goals
Instructional Goals
  • Student will identify parts of the wave including crest, trough, height, wavelength, frequency, and amplitude of a wave.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the movement energy through a wave.
formative assessment
Formative Assessment
  • Assessing prior knowledge through classroom discussion
  • Teacher observations during simulation activities
  • Accuracy of student calculations of amplitude
  • Think-Pair-Share
opening the lesson
Opening The Lesson
  • Play music “Catch a Wave” or other beach related music
  • Oral reading of Waves from Surfing to Tsunami by Drew Kampion
  • Classroom discussion of the book
  • Lead the students in a discussion of the parts of a wave.

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developing the lesson
Developing The Lesson
  • Classroom discussion of the book
  • Lead the students into a discussion on the parts of a wave.
  • Use ropes and a slinky to demonstrate different wave heights, lengths, and periods. Have a student volunteer to hold one end. By lifting and lowering the other end at different speeds and heights, create different sets of waves for the students to see.
  • Ask students to imagine how a boat might react as the waves change sizes and periods.
Draw a simple picture of a wave on the board so all of the students can see it.
  • Explain that each part of a wave has a name. Identify the crest, trough, wave height, and wavelength of each wave.
  • Then, show the students that a wave period or frequency is measured as the time it takes for two consecutive crests to pass a given point, and that all of these variables affect how a wave may look from a boat.
Ask the students to imagine that they are on a sailboat. Explain to them that a wave with a long wavelength or long wave period might just feel like a gentle roll, or riding a bicycle on a road with really shallow hills, regardless of the height of the wave.
  • Next, ask them to think of a really massive roller coaster. As waves decrease in wavelength or increase in wave period, they become steeper. A single 100-foot (30-meter) wave might cause nothing more than a gentle rocking motion out in the open ocean where it has a long wavelength; however, several 18-foot (six-meter) waves could seem enormous if the boat has to rise steeply over each one.
  • Have them discuss which has a greater amplitude.
  • Teach them how to calculate the amplitude of the wave.
Tell students that they have been transported to a sailboat traveling around the world.
  • Place the students in pairs, or small groups and have them try to create waves for a point on each ocean.
closing the lesson
Closing The Lesson
  • Review the parts of the wave and the concepts of wave height, wavelength and wave period. Ask the students to describe the waves that they created.
teacher resources
Teacher Resources
  • Waves from Surfing to Tsunami

by Drew Kampion

  • Ropes
  • Slinkys
  • Rulers
  • Paper and writing utensils
  • Container with water
  • Corks
  • Music (beach related)


National Geographic Xpeditions

enrichment activities
Enrichment Activities
  • Students can research famous surfers and the events they in which they participate.
  • Students can design an experiment that shows how amplitude and frequency effect the movement of energy.
lesson accommodations
Lesson Accommodations
  • Pair students
  • Give prelabeled drawings of a wave
learning goals
Learning Goals
  • You will be able to identify the parts of the waves
  • You will calculate the frequency, amplitude and wavelength of a wave.
  • Classroom participation
  • Accuracy of labeling the parts of the wave
  • Accuracy of calculating the frequency and amplitude of the wave
learning activity
Learning Activity
  • Listen to the story and discuss with the class
  • Using the materials create a wave and demonstrate different frequencies and amplitudes
  • Draw a wave
  • Label the parts of the wave
  • Calculate the frequency and amplitude of a wave
enrichment activities20
Enrichment Activities
  • Complete a report on a professional surfer
  • Design an experiment showing the movement of energy through a wave
  • Create an activity that reviews the parts of the wave