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Waves and Light

Explore waves through sound, light, and more!

Everything we hear and see is based on information our bodies take in from waves. In this course you’ll learn what waves are, how they travel, and how they interact. Along the way, you’ll apply your knowledge to earthquakes, noise-canceling headphones, ropes, and musical instruments.

By the end, you'll have investigated the nature of light and determined how fast light travels through space. Get ready to gain new perspective as you uncover just how prevalent waves are in everyday life!



Concepts and

  1. 1


    Learn about the wave basics: periods, oscillations, amplitude, wavelength, frequency, velocity, and more!

    1. Waves

      Sound, light, and skipping ropes — they're all waves.

    2. Wave Anatomy

      What's different about water waves and sound waves? What do they have in common?

    3. Wave Frequency and Velocity

      How do we measure the speed of sound?

  2. 2

    Wave Behaviors

    Uncover what happens when one wave meets another and when waves hit boundaries.

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      When waves collide, sometimes it can get destructive.

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      Boundary Behavior

      Can you still hear sound underwater?

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      Standing Waves

      Explore how a guitar holds a wave in place to produce a note.

  3. 3

    Wave Applications

    Explore interesting wave applications including the Doppler effect and noise-canceling headphones!

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      Noise-Canceling Headphones

      All it takes is a bit of interference to leave you alone with your music in a loud room.

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      The Doppler Effect

      Can an ambulance catch up to the sound of its own siren?

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      Seismic Waves

      Trace an earthquake back to its source by using wave properties.

  4. 4


    Discover what light is and how we measure it. Examine experiments, learn about the electromagnetic spectrum, and more!

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      What is Light?

      Light has a bit of an identity crisis: is it a wave or not?

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      Electromagnetic Radiation

      Learn how electromagnetic waves happily travel through the vacuum of space.

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      Speed of Light

      How was Newton able to measure the speed of light hundreds of years ago?

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      Measuring Light

      We can learn a lot about measuring light by studying the brightest objects in the universe.