In this activity, students use a shallow tray of water to demonstrate wave generation and behaviour.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- demonstrate how surf and tsunami waves originate
- demonstrate how surf and tsunami waves interact with the ocean floor
- demonstrate how wave height (amplitude) is increased due to shoaling.
Download the Word file for:
- introduction/background notes
- what you need
- what to do
- discussion questions.
Nature of science
Models are a way of visualising something we cannot safely or directly observe. The wave tank model helps us to represent surf and tsunami waves, but not with complete accuracy.
The level 3 Connected article Building for the future looks at how a scientist uses scientific modelling and is working with others to build a safer future for a Samoan village.
Waves of all kinds (such as water waves, sound waves and electromagnetic radiation) share several fundamental characteristics that can help us understand why they behave the way they do. Waves transfer energy and shoaling converts the kinetic energy in a tsunami wave into potential energy. Explore further some of the key similarities and differences between tsunamis and surf waves.