Featured in PASCO’s Advanced Physics Teacher Guide

Advanced Physics Teacher Guide


This manual features over 30 College Board curriculum and AP Physics exam inspired lab activities.

Wave Speed

Lab Summary

Use a spring and stop watch to determine the transverse wave speed of the spring.


A long spring, assumed to be ideal, is held in place along the lab bench at one end by one lab partner. Shaking the spring along the lab bench’s surface produces a standing wave at certain frequencies. 

Assuming the tension does not change significantly and that the friction is negligible, design and conduct an experiment to determine the transverse wave speed of the spring


Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Vibrating a spring at different harmonic frequencies.
  • Measuring the wavelength and frequency of the different harmonics.
  • Plotting and analyzing a frequency versus wavelength graph.
  • Manipulating the data to create a linearized graph of wavelength as it is related to frequency.
  • Using the slope of this graph to determine the wave speed in the spring.

Sensors / Equipment Used:



Pull the end loops more than 7 meters apart to demonstrate transverse, longitudinal, and standing waves.

Materials Used:

Meter Stick 

The Associated Bundle:

Advanced Physics Standard Sensor Bundle


This bundle contains the probeware needed to perform all 37 lab activities in the Advanced Physics lab manual.

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.