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Further Investigations: Waves and Wave Properties

  1. Talk with someone who draws, paints, or photographs waves. If possible, arrange a demonstration for the class. Learn how the artist captures the movement, color, and transparency of waves.
  2. Interview a surfer or consult references to determine how surfers describe waves and surfing. If possible, invite an experienced surfer to speak to the class. Ask them to describe
    1. how surfers position themselves to catch rides on waves.
    2. how surfers decide which wave to choose to ride.
    3. how surfers decide which craft to ride in any given conditions.
  3. Prepare a report on the science of surfing. Interview a surfboard shaper or look through surfing magazine archives for articles on surfboard shape and how boards are designed
    1. to excel in various conditions.
    2. to accommodate differences in surfers’ height, weight and strength.
  4. Return periodically to the same beach to observe the waves. Note the direction waves are coming from, their height, and their period. Keep a recording of the date, the weather conditions, the direction and speed of the wind, and the condition of the beach. Examine your data for patterns. If someone who has never been to the beach asks you to describe the waves, what would you say?
  5. Ocean waves are just one type of wave. Find out about other types of waves such as light, heat, and sound waves. How do these types of waves transmit energy?
  6. Different waves have different speeds. Most ocean waves move at 30 to 60 kilometers per hour, but certain kinds of ocean waves can move as fast as jet planes! Investigate what kinds of factors influence wave speed, and what kinds of waves are the fastest.


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Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.