Standing Waves on a Slinky

Abstract

A slinky mounted on a frame is used to demonstrate transverse and longitudinal standing waves. Markers on the slinky make the oscillatory motion of the medium visible.

Videos

Transverse 2nd Harmonic

Transverse Standing Waves

Fundamental.mv4 (178 KB) || 2nd-harmonic.m4v (555 KB)

3rd-harmonic.m4v (177 KB) || 4th-harmonic.m4v (405 KB)

Longitudinal (compressional) Standing Waves

Longistdgwave.m4v (411 KB)

Yes

Principles Illustrated

Transverse and longitudinal standing waves, oscillatory motion of the medium when transverse or longitudinal waves are present. Use the Slinky Pulses resource prior to using this one.

PHYS 2.3

Instructions

Use the Slinky Pulses resource prior to using this one.

It’s not very difficult to build a similar apparatus. Contact us for help if you wish to do this.

Safety

Individual teachers are responsible for safety in their own classes. Even familiar demonstrations should be practised and safety-checked by individual teachers before they are used in a classroom.

Related Resources

• Wave Simulator software
• Wave simulator machine

Notes

These videos (or better yet the actual apparatus) can help illustrate longitudinal and transverse waves. Light is a transverse EM wave while sound is a longitudinal or compressional wave. It is helpful to show students how a speaker works after showing videos. Have them put their fingers on the speaker while playing a tone of perhaps 100 Hz. They can feel the motion of the speaker and will understand how it produces longitudinal (compressional) waves in air.

What about water waves? The surf in other words. Are these waves transverse or longitudinal? No they are not. They are surface waves on the boundary between two media. This is another kind of wave.

References

PIRA 3B22.50, 3B22.60

Teaching Resources

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Credits

This teaching resource was developed with support from