Bell Ringers: Waves

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Properties of Waves

Use the arrows located at the bottom of the presentation to navigate through all the bell ringer questions.

  1. All Waves Need a Medium to Travel Through: While many waves, like sound waves, require a medium (solid, liquid, or gas) to travel through, electromagnetic waves, such as light, can travel through a vacuum.

  2. Amplitude Relates to Frequency: Some may believe that louder sounds (higher amplitude) are always higher in pitch (frequency), but amplitude and frequency are independent of one another. A sound can be loud and low-pitched or soft and high-pitched.

  3. Waves Transport Matter: It’s a common misconception that waves move matter over large distances. In fact, in most cases, the particles of the medium move back and forth around a fixed position, transferring energy without a net movement of the particles.

  4. Larger Amplitude Always Means Louder Sound: While this is generally true for sound waves, amplitude can relate to different properties in different types of waves. For example, in light waves, amplitude is related to brightness.

  5. Frequency Determines Speed: Some might think that higher frequency waves travel faster. In a given medium, all waves travel at the same speed, regardless of frequency or wavelength.

  6. Shorter Wavelength Means Higher Energy: While this holds true for electromagnetic waves (like light), it doesn’t apply to all types of waves. For instance, in sound waves, energy is more directly tied to amplitude.

  7. Waves are Only Horizontal or Vertical: Diagrams often depict waves moving horizontally or vertically, leading to the misconception that waves can only move in these directions. Waves can move in all three dimensions, depending on the source and medium.

  8. Frequency is How Fast the Wave Travels: Some confuse frequency (how often waves occur) with speed (how fast the wave travels through a medium). These are distinct properties.

  9. All Waves are Visible: Especially at younger ages, students might believe that if they can’t see it, it’s not a wave. Sound waves, radio waves, and many other types of waves are invisible to the human eye.

  10. A Wave’s Energy Comes from its Frequency: While frequency can be related to energy (as in the electromagnetic spectrum), the energy in many waves, like sound waves, comes largely from its amplitude.

Properties of Waves

Use the arrows located at the bottom of the presentation to navigate through all the bell ringer questions.

    1. Misconception: All Transparent Materials Transmit All Colors of Light Equally

      • Reality: Different materials can transmit different colors (frequencies) of light to varying degrees. For example, some sunglasses can block UV light while allowing visible light to pass through.
    2. Misconception: Black Objects Absorb All Colors and White Objects Reflect All Colors

      • Reality: While black objects do absorb a significant amount of visible light, and white objects reflect a lot, they don’t necessarily absorb or reflect 100% of all colors. The perceived color of an object is based on the light frequencies it reflects and not the ones it absorbs.
    3. Misconception: Mirrors Reflect All Colors of Light, Making Them White

      • Reality: Mirrors reflect most of the colors of light that hit them, giving a true representation of whatever is in front of them. They aren’t “white” as they don’t diffuse light in all directions as white objects do.
    4. Misconception: Clear, Transparent Objects Don’t Absorb Any Light

      • Reality: Just because an object is transparent doesn’t mean it doesn’t absorb any light. For example, certain glasses can be transparent but tinted, meaning they absorb certain frequencies of light.
    5. Misconception: The Color of an Object is the Color it Absorbs

      • Reality: The color of an object is determined by the wavelengths of light it reflects, not absorbs. For example, a red apple reflects red wavelengths and absorbs most others.
    6. Misconception: Shadows are the Absence of Light

      • Reality: Shadows are areas where light is blocked, resulting in less light, but not necessarily a complete absence of light.
    7. Misconception: Opaque Objects Don’t Transmit Any Light

      • Reality: While opaque objects primarily reflect or absorb light, in some cases, they can transmit light if it’s very thin or if the light source is intense.