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Doris the Exploress 07-11-2010 08:07 AM

Demonstrating Water Waves
I teach mostly art during the year, and could use a little help. Sometimes I am surprised how easily some of you sciencey types accept what seem to be inconsistencies to me! How can anyone "whatever" a scientific concept? No offense; I am in awe of you!
For instance, I want to do a demonstration of how water waves work with a shallow pan of water and a fan and maybe a bobbing cork. I also want to do one of those stadium "waves" in which people stand up and down in place to demonstrate that water doesn't really move from side to side but just up and down; it's the energy that travels, right?
Okay, so some sources say that the water doesn't move laterally. But then what happens to water in a wave column that shortens in a shallow pan? It's got to move from side to side, right? I see a source that tells me the water moves in a circle or ellipse, but not very far, and returns to its original place.
So do I explain this or just keep it simple and say it doesn't move laterally? Or should I keep it simple for the 1st to 3rd graders and explain the circular motion to the 7th and 8th graders?
Also, when I line the little ones up to do THE WAVE, what should I say each kid represents? A "column" of water might not make sense to them, since they study architectural columns during the year. Many of my kids are dyslexic and many don't "get" metaphors. What is more literal but easy to understand? A molecule of water? A drop? Each is a cork?

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