In this activity, students use a Mexican wave to demonstrate how waves transfer energy and to visualise the wave behaviours of reflection, constructive interference and shoaling.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • explain that a wave transfers energy without transferring mass
  • demonstrate how reflection causes waves to ‘bounce back’
  • demonstrate how constructive interference leads to increased wave amplitude
  • demonstrate the effect of shoaling on wave amplitude

Download the Word file for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • discussion questions.

Nature of science

A model is a simplified imitation of something being studied. It helps us to better understand the topic. The Mexican wave model allows us to visualise wave behaviours in the classroom without having to travel to the coast.

    Published 2 May 2011