The Standing Wave Maker Interactive is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is intended for use near the middle to later stages of a learning cycle on waves and sound. It provides a great illustration of how standing waves are formed - by the interference of two waves moving in the opposite direction through the same medium. Using the Pre-set Waves option, learners can quickly cycle through the standing wave patterns for the various harmonics for both standing waves on a string and standing waves in air columns. The simulation also effectively demonstrates the nature of longitudinal standing waves such as those formed by sound waves in open- and closed-end air columns.
The Physics Classroom has prepared a classroom-ready student exercise on the topic of standing waves and harmonic frequencies. The exercise guides students through the process of using the simulation to determine the frequencies that result in standing waves for the first several harmonics. They use information provided about the number of nodes and antinodes to identify the harmonic number for each standing wave. They repeat the process for two different wave speeds - one which is specified and one which is up to the student's own choosing. Once they have collected all the data, students proceed to analyze the data to determine numerical patterns. The exercise is ideal for use in the classroom at the early stages of a unit on standing waves and harmonic frequencies.  View Student Exercise.

Our Standing Wave Maker simulation is now available with a Concept Checker. Do the simulation. Then follow it up with the Concept Checker.


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Standing Wave Maker Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignments WM7 and WM8 of the Wave Motion module and assignments SM6, SM7, SM8, SM9, SM10 and SM11 of the Sound and Music module provide great complements to this Interactive. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding, most notably ...

    Standing Wave Mathematics
    Resonance and Guitar Strings
    Resonance and Open-End Air Columns
    Resonance and Closed-End Air Columns

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never supplant) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Seven notable lab ideas include ...

    Vibrating Spring Lab
    Nodes and Antinodes Lab
    Harmonic Frequencies Lab
    Natural Frequency and Standing Waves Lab
    Closed End Air Column Lab
    Open End Air Column Lab
    Guitar String Lab

    Visit The Laboratory.
  • Science Reasoning Activities:
    Science classrooms should be filled with reasoning activities. There is one related activity in the Waves section of the Science Reasoning Center that will challenge students to employ close reading, data analysis, and logical reasoning. The activity is named ...

    Standing Waves on a Rope

    Visit the Science Reasoning Center.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating Standing Wave Maker into an instructional unit on Waves and Sound can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.


The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive and for contributing it to our collection of Physics Interactives. Visit to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.