What Causes Big Waves?

What Causes Big Waves? lesson plan

What causes high waves to form? Set up these colorful science experiments to better understand the world’s oceans!

  • 1.

    Do research on how waves and even tsunamis are formed. Sudden wind movements, earthquakes, and even a chunk of an iceberg dropping into the Arctic sea can cause a perfect wave for a surfer on a Hawaiian beach. See wave formation first hand with this science-experiment diorama.

  • 2.

    Color construction paper with Crayola® Markers to form an ocean surface. From another sheet of paper, use Crayola Scissors to cut four 1-inch wide (2.5 cm) strips of paper lengthwise. Fold the strips accordion-style to make springs. With Crayola School Glue, attach the springs to the corners of the platform. Air-dry the glue.

  • 3.

    Cover your art area with recycled newspaper. Use blue Crayola Markers to draw wavelike designs on white facial tissues. Add Crayola Glitter Glue sparkles to your "water." Air-dry the glue.

  • 4.

    Draw and cut out paper boats, fish, a sun, or a surfboarder for your scene. Let your imagination sail! Stand your platform upright on its paper springs. Glue one edge of the tissue waves to the blue paper ocean. Glue the cutouts in place.

  • 5.

    Now start your experiments and record your observations. Here are a few possibilities to get you started. Blow on the tissue. What happens? Wind causes waves on the ocean surface. Stronger winds from storm surges cause larger waves. Did you notice the waves move up and down? Floating buoys bob up and down with waves, too.

  • 6.

    Press on the paper springs. Underwater disturbances such as earthquakes cause the sea to rise up and down, sometimes creating monstrous waves called tidal waves or tsunamis.

  • 7.

    Drop a rock on your scene. The tissue paper wave moves up and down. Arctic icebergs dropping into the sea can cause big waves. If wind combines with such a wave, a huge wave can result. Waves can move for a long time with the help of wind. What did you learn about how waves are created?

Standards

  • LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SCI: Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
  • VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.
  • VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.
  • VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

Adaptations

  • Possible classroom resources include: Navigators: Extreme Weather by Margaret Hynes; Eye Wonder: Weather by DK Publishing; Extreme Weather (EXPERIENCE) by John Farndon; Tsunami: Helping Each Other by Ann Morris & Heidi Larson; Tsunami!: Deadly Wall of Water by Jeff Putnam; Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Tsunamis: Projects and Principles for Beginning Geologists by Mattys Levy & Mario Salvadori
  • Encourage students to investigate where in our world the largest waves occur. Why?
  • Students work in collaborate in small groups to investigate wave energy that could be used to power ships, make electricity, or be harnessed for other uses. Students organize ideas into an electronic format for presentation to classmates. Be certain scientific knowledge supports the groups' ideas.
  • Challenge students to create a model of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's surface using Crayola Model Magic. Investigate how movement of the plates can affect weather conditions.