Diffraction Between Wax Blocks

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this optics activity, learners explore diffraction by adding wax blocks to a ripple tank. The wedge-shaped blocks act as obstacles that the wave must bend around. Learners will observe this phenomenon as well as the semicircular waves that emerge from the narrow opening between the blocks. Learners experiment by changing the size of the opening and seeing what effect it has on the emerging waves. This activity is recommended as a follow-up to "The Ripple Tank" activity and can be supplemented by the "Interference in a Ripple Tank" activity (see related resources).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Wave Properties
      • Wave Motion
      • Diffraction and Interference
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Cobb, Vicki ; Cobb, Josh


  • All rights reserved, Optical Society of America, 2008