The Wave

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this multi-step experiment (page 4 of pdf), learners study tide pools, and then drop a "wave" (a 4-pound bag of beans or birdseed) on a shell to mimic the force of crashing surf on tide pool animals. Next, learners create tide pool animals from card stock, masking tape, and string and predict how well their creature will withstand the 'wave.' After dropping the "wave" on the hand-made animals, learners record the results and discuss why some animals fared better than others. This is a great activity to use before or after a field trip to a tide pool or an aquarium with a tide pool exhibit.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per student)

  • 4lb bag of birdseed, rice, or beans (this your “wave”)
  • duct tape and freezer bags to reinforce the “the wave” packaging
  • shells
  • string
  • index cards or card stock
  • scissors for students
  • masking tape
  • “The Wave” worksheet (page 6 of pdf)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Tides
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
    • Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Aquarium of the Bay,