Wave Simulator Machine


The hand cranked wave machine.
The hand cranked wave machine.

The wave machine illustrates the motion of the medium when transverse or longitudinal waves are present, and the connection to simple harmonic motion.

Principles Illustrated

This demonstration, coupled with videos of waves and pulses on a slinky, plus the software wave simulator, can effectively get across ideas of amplitude, period, frequency, wavelength, speed, and phase of transverse and longitudinal waves as well as the connection to simple harmonic motion. See “Similar Demos” below for links to related demos.

NCEA & Science Curriculum

SCI 1.3, PHYS 1.4, PHYS 2.3, PHYS 3.3


Turn the crank slowly and observe the connection between the wave and the simple harmonic motion of individual chunks of medium. Point out wavelength and have students time the period with a stop watch as you turn the crank.

Some schools may have these machines and not know what they are! They are still available (2020) from http://www.kidslabsupplies.com/ . Generally students much prefer to make the Gummy bear wave machine, so for over $100, we’d recommend you only use this machine if you have access to one.

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

  • Slinky pulses
  • Slinky waves
  • Wave simulator


This teaching resource was developed with support from

The MacDiarmid Institute
Faculty of Science, Victoria University of Wellington
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington


Copyright and fair use statement