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Sound Waves: Longitudinal and Transverse Waves

Demonstrate the two types of waves: longitudinal (or compression) and transverse using springs and ropes. Toy springs can show both types but ropes and string can only show one; can you think which one? Track the movement of the wave energy and compare this to the movement of the medium.


Questions Answered:

  • What are the differences between transverse and compression waves?
  • What type of waves are sound waves?
  • How does wave moment and particle movement (within the wave) differ?


Topics & Concepts Addressed:

  • Compression and transverse waves move through media differently.
  • Toy springs can show both types of waves, but ropes and string can only show transverse waves.
  • Wave energy moves along a wave while the particles of the media move back and forth.


Materials Needed

Toy spring, rope, timer, metric tape measure or meter stick


Preparation Time

Collect materials

Sound Waves: Longitudinal and Transverse Waves


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

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