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Fish Wave

Startled fish cause a wave surge as their individual movements constructively interfere.

An Iowa DNR Fish Hatchery

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • How can small fish make a big wave?
  • Why do the waves get bigger and then smaller?
  • Does this pattern appear in other circumstances?

Classroom Suggestions

  • Fish Wave 1: Introduce the phenomenon and show the wave’s amplitude increasing. Have students generate questions.
  • Fish Wave 2: Shows the fish in random movement before the phenomenon and the stimulus for their reaction. This video has a wider view and shows both raceways of fish reacting with different results.
  • The Wave Interference and the Double Slit Experiment helps to show light’s wave properties by demonstrating the constructive interference and the diffraction pattern that develops from interference with the reflected waves.
  • Basic Wave Properties: Demonstrate how small disturbances can add up to waves with big amplitudes or show students waves through a liquid reflecting off a solid surface. 

Related Resources

Iowa Core Alignment

Physical Science
High School (9-12)
Disciplinary Core Idea
PS4: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer

Credit Info

Submitted by Diane May


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