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A Visual and Intuitive Approach to Teaching and Learning Concepts in Wave Theory

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.134.1 - 26.134.19



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Paper Authors

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Daniel Raviv Florida Atlantic University


Adam Ginton NA

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Adam Ginton received his B.S. in Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to that he attended Dreyfoos School of the Arts as a communications major. He anticipates becoming involved in education and eventually going to graduate school.

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A Visual and Intuitive Approach to Teaching and Learning Concepts in Wave Theory Effective science communicators are gifted in their capacity to take seeminglycomplicated and abstract subjects and present them in clear, engaging, and intuitive ways.Genuine learning is not achieved through memorization of formulas and rules, for even if astudent is able to recite their textbook or teacher verbatim, the underlying logic and physicalsignificance of what they are repeating may still be lost to them. Additionally, some studentswho find particular information difficult to remember will attribute their struggle to an inherentinability on their part to understand the material, while others may simply disregard the subjectas it seems irrelevant to their lives. For various reasons, such troubles are very common inphysics classes, be it at the high school or college level. This paper discusses a project aimed at teaching the fundamental physics of mechanicaland electromagnetic waves in such a way that “even a 4th grader could understand.” As opposedto the traditional method of developing course material around mathematics and formulas, thecentral approach in this project is to learn using examples and daily experiences. Waveproperties such as amplitude, frequency and phase are initially explained using pictures andillustrations taken from the real world such as playing musical instruments. Certain concepts arefurther emphasized by relating them to familiar experiences that are normally taken for granted;musical pitch as related to frequency, amplifiers making signals loud, interference in noise-cancelling headphones, thunder/lightning and wave speed, and the effects of resonance whilesinging in the shower. Additionally, dispersed throughout the project is a collection of incrediblefacts, funny quotes, and stimulating thought-experiments relating to science. Using this approach, students should have a conceptual understanding and of what isbeing discussed before referring to mathematical equations. Through this style of teaching andlearning, we hope to entertain students while imparting a better understanding and newappreciation for physics. It should be noted that the project is meant to provide introductions toexisting textbooks, and not to replace or criticize them.

Raviv, D., & Ginton, A. (2015, June), A Visual and Intuitive Approach to Teaching and Learning Concepts in Wave Theory Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23475

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