Longitudinal and Transverse Waves

Longitudinal and Transverse Waves Photo Credit: Clipart.com


It's hard to understand sound without knowing something about waves. During this lesson, you'll do some research about different kinds of waves. Along the way, you'll learn more about the properties of sound.


To learn more about acoustics instruments, go to the Introduction to Acoustics Instruments from the National Museum of American History (NMAH). As you watch the video, think about this question (you can write your answer on the Longitudinal and Transverse Waves student sheet):

  • How does sound, such as music, get to your ears so you can hear it?  Write and draw your response.

Your teacher will help you find a partner. Watch the Introduction to Wave Models video from NMAH.  As you watch the video, think about answers to these questions, which you can record on the student sheet:

  • What is a sound wave?
  • The video showed one model of how sound travels. Can you describe that model?       
  • What is a longitudinal wave? Draw a picture of this wave and describe it in words.    
  • What is a transverse wave? Draw a picture of this wave and describe it in words.
  • In the 19th century, scientists depicted sound waves as transverse waves. How were they able to do that? What parts of the waves are related?

Now you should conduct some research on sound waves. Many websites discuss the properties of waves. Check out these sites to learn more:

Use your Sound Waves Research student sheet to help guide you in your research.

This esheet is a part of the Properties of Sound Waves lesson.

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