Energy and mechanical waves

You are here


Energy > Forms, conservation of energy and energy transfer > Energy and mechanical waves 

Mechanical waves are an oscillation of matter that transfers energy through a medium. The oscillation does not cause movement of the matter. The mechanical wave will travel until all the initial amount of energy is transferred. Sound waves and ocean waves are examples of mechanical waves.

Connection to Big Idea about forces:  A mechanical wave is an oscillation of matter, and therefore transfers energy through a medium (not mass). The speed, size, and shape of the wave depends on the mechanical properties of the medium, and on the force, that caused the wave to occur in the first place.

Connection to Big Idea about particles:  The propagation of mechanical waves strongly depends on the type of bonds among the molecules that form the medium. The mechanical waves are propagating faster to solids than liquid and gases.  

Connection to Big Idea about Earth: Earthquakes cause mechanical waves that travel through the Earth’s interior and surface. “P” waves are longitudinal waves that travel deeper into Earth and “S” waves are transverse waves that reach the Earth’s surface.

Subjects related: Environmental Sciences, Physics

Age ranges: 7-8, 12-13, 14-15,17-18



PLATON is a two-year European project launched on September 2016. It aspires to provide teachers and school communities with a coherent teachers’ training framework which will update their current teaching practices. More particularly, PLATON aims to offer an open and innovative training framework to teachers of primary and secondary education which will focus on:

  • Promoting student-centred teaching approaches;
  • Promoting a holistic interdisciplinary approach;
  • Support the use of online educational tools;
  • Support the meaningful collaboration between teachers of the same school.



Largo Topázios 48,
2785, Portugal

Phone: +351 21 453 7440

Email: platon@nuclio.pt


Subscribe to our newsletter