Discover the Simple Steps to Measure Wavelength and Speed of Water Waves Caused by a Single Falling Drop

Understanding the behavior of water waves can be a fascinating endeavor. Whether you’re a student conducting a science experiment or a curious individual exploring the physics of water, measuring the wavelength and speed of water waves caused by a single falling drop can be an enlightening experience. With simple tools like a dish, a timer, a pipette, a camera, and a ruler, you can easily perform this experiment at home. This article will guide you through the process, step by step.

Materials Needed

  • A dish (preferably a petri dish)
  • A timer
  • A pipette
  • A camera (a smartphone camera will suffice)
  • A ruler


Step 1: Setup

Fill the dish with water up to a certain level. Ensure the dish is placed on a flat surface to avoid any unnecessary movement. Set up your camera to record the water surface from a top view. This will help you capture the wave patterns created by the falling drop.

Step 2: Dropping the Water

Using the pipette, carefully drop a single drop of water into the dish. As the drop hits the water surface, it will create a series of waves that will propagate outwards. Start the timer as soon as the drop hits the water.

Step 3: Recording the Waves

Record the waves created for a few seconds. Make sure to capture the entire wave pattern in your recording. This will be used to measure the wavelength and speed of the waves.


Step 1: Measuring Wavelength

Play back the recording and pause at a point where the wave pattern is clearly visible. Using the ruler, measure the distance between two consecutive wave crests. This distance is the wavelength of the wave.

Step 2: Measuring Speed

Speed of the wave can be calculated by dividing the wavelength by the time it takes for one complete wave to pass a fixed point. To measure this, play the recording and note the time it takes for one complete wave (from crest to crest) to pass a fixed point. Divide the wavelength by this time to get the speed of the wave.

By following these simple steps, you can measure the wavelength and speed of water waves caused by a single falling drop. This experiment not only helps understand the basic principles of wave physics but also provides a hands-on experience of conducting scientific measurements.