Catch the Wave

Source: Shalom Jacobovitz

Type: Investigation

Theme: Physics

Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learning Target: Students will measure wavelength of ocean waves from a satellite view and research period, frequency, and origin of their wave forms.


Maxar TechnologiesThis project is for individuals. All measurements are in the meters.

  1. Find a satellite photo of ocean waves near a landmass anywhere on Earth where waves are visible in the adjacent ocean. A feature should be visible, such as an inlet, island, jetty, etc. Select an image where diffraction or reflection is occurring. If using Google Earth, toggle "historical imagery" for more options. 
  2. Collect metadata on the image: date, time, latitude, longitude, source, copyright.
  3. Measure wavelength (λ) between crests in two different locations.
  4. Annotate photograph with at least two vectors describing wavelength with direction. Include diffracting or reflecting waves. Annotate photograph other features, such as plane wave, circular wave, plane wave reflection, circular wave reflection, diffraction around a barrier.
  5. Generate a Ripple Tank model to model at least two of the features. Use line waves as a source.
  6. Obtain and provide a Peer Review.


Submit as a PDF, Word, or PowerPoint.

  1. Annotated image
    1. Metadata listed above.
    2. Two wavelength vectors (with distance in meters).
    3. Annotate wave type.
    4. Annotate reflection or diffusion.
  2. Write a minimum of two strong paragraphs describing the wave features in your photograph. Speculate/hypothesize about the origins of the features described based on research. Include sources. 
  3. Ripple Tank model. Provide text or TXT file. Example output: 
    $ 3 512 64 40 0 668 0.048828125
    s 2 122 4 0 1.0499985 0 10 100 1 0
    w 0 3 253 511 251
    w 0 216 263 258 216
  4. Peer Review.


Exit Ticket
CCSS Math Practice
  • I can look for and make use of structure.
  • I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
  • Cause and Effect
  • Structure and Function


Example Project by Inae