The Slinky Lab is an engaging, exciting way for seventh-graders to learn about transverse and longitudinal waves.
As part of the typical seventh-grade science curriculum, students study the properties of waves including reflection, absorption, and transmission. The Slinky Lab, introduced by Daniel Wright Science Teacher Tony Hafner, brings these concepts to life in a hands-on experiment. Students are given a slinky to work with, allowing them to generate transverse waves that travel perpendicular to the slinky's length and longitudinal waves that travel parallel along it. By holding one end still while manipulating the other, students can observe how the waves reflect back when they reach the fixed end. Later , they will test how materials like cloth, cardboard, and metal affect sound wave transmission. Some materials absorb the waves while others allow them to transmit or amplify. Through this interactive lab, key wave concepts like reflection, refraction, absorption, and transmission are concretely demonstrated. Students gain a deeper understanding of abstract wave properties through directly manipulating the slinky and other tools. The Slinky Lab reinforces and builds upon the science and engineering practice of developing and using models.