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What makes good waves? Physics of Wave Trains micro-lesson

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Learning time​

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What makes good waves to surf? This is about the physics of how waves travel. This is a map of the places in the world you can surf. Really good waves to surf usually have to travel across oceans to reach the best surf destinations. As the waves travel great distances, something interesting happens to them. In physics, there's something called wave dynamics and surf waves follow the same principles. The next picture is a visualization about how storms create wave trains. In the beginning, the waves all have different shapes and sizes. As the wave trains move out over the open ocean, the larger, faster travelling waves get ahead of the others and the slower ones stay in the middle and then the slowest are last. The longer these waves travel in the same direction together, the longer they have to line up and make a nicely shaped wave trains. This is a principle called constructive interference. The waves have time to move together and when they match up perfectly, they create really nice evenly shaped wave trains. When they match up, they also increase in power. These are the two things that make really great waves to surf, a nicely shaped wave and enough power to surf it.

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Answer time

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Here are some example of questions about this video that kids may be asked in the 1Question app to earn screen time.

  • Storms create waves and then waves group together to form... ?

    1) Wave trains
    2) Bright colors
    3) Big trains
    4) Soft shapes
  • The first waves out of the wave trains travel at which speed?

    1) fastest
    2) medium
    3) slowest
    4) not at all
  • The last waves out of the wave trains travel at which speed?

    1) fastest
    2) medium
    3) slowest
    4) not at all
  • When the waves match up perfectly, they also increase in what?

    1) Power
    2) Speed
    3) Time
    4) Length
  • What happens to waves trains that do not match up nicely?

    1) The waves actually cancel each other out and do not make good waves to surf
    2) They become evenly shaped wave trains
    3) They increase in power
    4) They stay the same
  • What is it called when the waves travel long enough together to line up really well?

    1) Constructive interference
    2) Wave Train Assembly
    3) Interference principle
    4) Energy increase

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Meet your educator

Our micro-courses are developed and delivered by qualified educators from around the world.

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

Sarah Sanchez Medrano

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