Welcome to practical physicsPracticle physics - practical activities designed for use in the classroom with 11 to 19 year olds

Basic experiments with ripple tanks

Introducing the ripple tank, a powerful tool that can help students visualize wave behaviour in general. By pointing out that wavefronts are perpendicular to the direction of motion of the wave, you can link ripple tank experiments to experiments in optics, where rays show the direction of motion of the light.

This is a set of experiments on wave reflections. Students are introduced to ripple tanks and gain confidence in using them, by doing some simple experiments with pulses.


Simple circular pulses in ripple tanks

Simple straight pulses

Reflection of a straight pulse by a barrier

Reflection of a circular pulse by a barrier

Reflection at a parabolic barrier

Reflection of ripples at a circular barrier

Elliptical reflector

Vibrator to generate continuous waves



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