Investigating the Speed of Water Waves Essay

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Investigating the Speed of Water Waves


In this experiment I will be investigating the wave speed, of waves on water in a tray, and how this speed is affected.

Waves can be longitudinal, when the particles move in the same direction as the direction of the wave, or it can be transverse, when the particles move at 90o to the direction of the wave. Water waves are transverse waves even though transverse waves cannot travel through liquid. This is because the waves travel on top of the water.


The aim of this investigation is to find out how wave speed is affected by the depth of the water. To do this we will observe whether the depth of the water affects the wave
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This shows that water moves faster in deep water and slower in shallow water.


We will fill the 38.5cm long tray with 1cm of water. Then we will tip the tray so that one end is 5cm high then release it and this will provide the wave. The stop clock will be started from the moment the tray hits the table. We will then record the time for this wave to travel across the tray 5 times. We chose to record the time it took to travel 5 times because the time for the wave to travel once across the tray would be too fast and it would be difficult to obtain accurate results. Also if we let the wave reflect too many times the wave amplitude would be too small to see after a few reflections and so we would not be able to measure it accurately. This will be repeated 5 times to make it easier to see anomalies and so the average results will be more accurate. We will then do the same for 2cm, 3cm, 4cm, 5cm, 6cm and 7cm of water.


Fair Test – We will make sure that the experiment is a fair test by just releasing the tray and not forcing or pushing it down. We will do this because if the tray is forced down then we may give it an uneven amount of energy each time and the results will not be accurate. Another factor that can affect the wave speed is friction. We will not change the tray during the experiment

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