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.
Transverse 2nd Harmonic
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Transverse Standing Waves
Longitudinal (compressional) Standing Waves
Longistdgwave.m4v (411 KB)
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.
NCEA & Science Curriculum
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.
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.
- Slinky Pulses
- Wave Simulator software
- Wave simulator machine
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.
PIRA 3B22.50, 3B22.60
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This teaching resource was developed with support from