Introduction: The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster activity is and opportunity for students reinforce and expand their knowledge of resonance. The disaster provides an exciting real-life example of resonance.


Timing: This activity should take about 25-30 minutes to complete.


Group Size: Small groups (3 or 4)


Learning Objectives: The objective of this second wave activity is to reinforce resonance.


Guiding Question: How can sound shake a bridge apart?


Materials: No materials needed, only a media player for the video. If the there is difficulty playing the movie, go to the original website:

Photocopy enough activity sheets for each student.


Play video and then have students read Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster discussion as a group. They should highlight the important points. Take a moment to answer any general questions before students move onto the closure questions. Remind students to be prepared to discuss their responses as a class. After students complete their closure questions, give them a chance to discuss the bridge disaster. There are some very interesting tangents the students will take. The instructor can collect the activity sheets before or after the class discussion. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster is a collaborative learning activity. To succeed, students will need to work together and use their time wisely.


Assessment: Students will be assessed based on their closure question answers.


Answer Key:

1) The bridge was forced to vibrate at its own natural frequency? What is this called and how is it related to our last experiment?

Resonance, and the bridge like the air column in the resonance tube experiment is being forced to vibrate at its natural frequency.


2) How does the bridges vibration relate to someone being pushed on a swing?

If a father matches the natural frequency of his son being pushed on a swing, the amplitude of the son’s motion will increase. If it does not match, the amplitude will decrease.


3) How could the principle of harmonic resonance be used as a tool for building demolition companies?

Match the natural frequency of building or structure and force it to vibrate and you may shake it down.


4) Did the wind really knock over this bridge? Explain.

Yes and no, the wind caused the vibration, but it didn’t push the bridge ov

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