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Ride the Wave!


Brief Description
Students participate in an activity that shows how sonar works.


Students learn about sonar and how sonar works.


ocean, sounding, sonar, oceanographer

Materials Needed

glass pie plate, pitcher of water, overhead projector, eyedropper, a cup with water

Lesson Plan

  • Explain to students that oceanographers, people who study the ocean, use sonar to track objects underwater. Explain that sonar is a device that uses sound waves sent out by objects to detect and locate objects underwater. Tell students that they will see how sonar works.
  • Put the clear glass pie plate onto the overhead projector. Have a student pour water into the pie plate. The image of the water projects onto the screen.
  • Give another student the eyedropper. Tell the student to fill the eyedropper with water from the cup.
  • Ask another student to hold the dropper 6 to 12 inches above the pie plate. Tell the student to let one drop of water fall into the middle of plate of water.
  • Ask students to describe what happens. (The drop of water falling into the plate creates a wave that goes out from the middle of the plate and bounces back from the sides.) Tell students the action simulates the way sonar reflects sound waves from objects underwater.


Have different students take turns doing the experiment. Ask students to explain how sonar works in their own words.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lois Lewis

National Standards