Loading please wait

The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Try an activity or get started for free

Explain Superposition of Waves

In this worksheet, students will be introduced to water waves as undulations, which travel through water in a transverse motion, and can add to or cancel out themselves.

'Explain Superposition of Waves' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Year:  Year 8 Science worksheets

Curriculum topic:   Physics: Waves

Curriculum subtopic:   Observed Waves

Popular topics:   Physics worksheets

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

The diagram shows the characteristics of transverse and longitudinal waves. Light and water waves, although very different to each other, travel as transverse waves. In transverse waves, the vibrations are at a right-angle to the direction of movement. The number of waves that pass through a certain point in one second is called the frequency of a wave.


wave graphs


The pictures below show water waves.


Water waveRipples


If you drop a stone or a water droplet on a smooth water surface, ripples will form (see picture below).




When two waves occur in the same medium (the substance they travel in) at the same time, they interfere with each other and can combine. In essence, they can add up or cancel each other out; a bit like addition and subtraction.


Wave interference and superposition (sometimes called superimposition) is shown in the diagram below:


Wave interference


In constructive interference the two waves add up to form a higher wave (shown by the green wave). In destructive interference (also called superposition), the two waves cancel each other out, which is shown by the flat line.


It is indeed very interesting that despite wave interference, the waves themselves do not change and after the superposition, they will continue travelling as they were before and on the same path.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started

Popular Science topics

Try an activity or get started for free