Why experiment with waves?
Teaching Guidance for 14-16
A wide range of mechanical and electromagnetic waves become understandable with a limited number of concepts, e.g. interference.
Practical experience of waves builds familiarity with wave phenomena on which future experience can be based.
Wave phenomena provide many interesting demonstrations and experiments which students can enjoy doing themselves.
Students are able to do the experiments fairly safely, designing their own investigations, provided a supply of equipment is available, on a ‘cafeteria-like’ basis.
Many demonstrations require the development of skills for the effect to be clearly seen, and the acquisition of these skills is a pleasure in itself.
Photograph courtesy of Lucy Hollis
In one of his autobiographical essays, Richard Feynman recounts his experience of finding that degree-level students were unable to connect optics theory with optical effects seen outside the classroom window. Students have many opportunities to observe waves and ripples for themselves. This photo shows diffraction of ripples as they pass an obstruction in a pond.