Wave Machine

Wave Machine

We’re surrounded by waves! Sound and light travel as waves to our ears and eyes. Ocean waves crash onto the beach. Radio waves broadcast music to our cars. We even use waves to cook our food - in microwaves! Try making this wave machine to see how all different kinds of waves move! 

Ages:
5 - 16
Est. Time:
<1 hour

How we did it:

Materials List

  1. stools (2)
  2. duct tape
  3. scissors
  4. wooden skewers (50)
  5. gumdrops
  6. rocks (2)
  1. Step 1

    Gather your materials. Then, place two stools about 6 feet apart.

  2. Step 2

    Place a rock or two on each one. 

  3. Step 3

    Stretch a piece of duct tape (sticky side up) between the stools and tape it to the underside of each stool. 


  4. Step 4

    Leaving about 1 foot of tape empty on each end, center the skewers along the tape, placing each one about 1 ½” away from the one before it. 

  5. Fun Fact!

    Waves can only travel things that are touching or connected. This is the purpose of the tape. A disturbance in one of the skewers twists the tape, causing a disturbance in the skewer after it and so on and so forth.

  6. Step 5

    Push a gummy candy onto both ends of each skewer. 

  7. Step 6

    Tap the skewer on one end of the tape and see what happens! Did you see a wave form and roll down the line? 

  8. Learn More!

    A wave is a moving disturbance that travels through something. For example, an ocean wave is a disturbance in the water near the surface of the ocean that rolls along with an up-down round-and-round motion.

  9. Learn More!

    Carefully observe what happens when the wave reaches the end of the skewers. Did you notice that it bounces back and comes back to you? This is because when waves hit something fixed and solid that they can’t move through, they reflect in the opposite direction! 


    Experiment further by adding more gummies to the ends of the skewers, or removing them entirely. Does the wave move through the skewers faster or slower than before?