Navigate back to the activity.

Comparing Representations of Electromagnetic Waves: Instructor's Guide

Main Ideas

  • Professional physicists use multiple representations of plane waves, each of which highlights different features of the waves.

Students' Task

Students compare and contrast five different common representations of electromagnetic plane waves.


We use this activity as the final experience, often as homework, in a sequence of activities on plane waves.


You will need a handout that contains the following images:

Activity: Introduction

Show the students the different representations of electromagnetic plane waves. For each representation ask the students to decide which characteristics of plane waves are shown in the representation and which are not.

Activity: Student Conversations

Activity: Wrap-up


This activity makes a good follow-up homework question to the visualizing plane waves activity.

Personal Tools