Wave Properties Card Sort NGSS MS-PS4-1 MS-PS4-2 MS-PS4-3 Google Ready


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Card sorts are amazing! They give students the ability to work with vocabulary in a way that helps foster meaningful discussions with one another about content and helps you as the instructor to check for understanding. And it’s engaging!

You will need to print the Waves Card Sort CARDS PDF document and then cut the pages into individual squares/cards per group. I put each set of cards in a zip lock bag and really emphasize not letting them mix with the other group’s cards.

This card sort includes a PowerPoint with detailed student directions that chunks the activity and makes it more structured. I click through the directions as students attempt to match the cards. Once the discussion is over and every group has the Vocabulary cards matched with the correct definition, I have them fill in the vocabulary chart, which puts the vocabulary into context by looking up real life examples. Some of the vocabulary is somewhat abstract and may be difficult to draw a picture of, but this is a good metacognitive exercise.

I also provide a list of helpful YouTube Clips that could help the students sort them correctly. You can have them sort the cards without any background knowledge/scaffolding, however I find it better as a review. You can also show some of the clips and as they watch the clips they can rearrange their cards. Again it’s a great metacognitive activity.


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The card sort includes the following:

-24 vocabulary cards

-24 definition cards

-Answer key

-Editable Vocabulary Chart

-Editable Vocabulary list

-List of YouTube clips

-Link to make a copy for Google Classroom

This Activity covers NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI):

PS4.A: Wave Properties

• A simple wave has a repeating pattern with a specific wavelength, frequency, and amplitude.(MS-PS4-1)

• A sound wave needs a medium through which it is transmitted. (MS-PS4-2)

PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation

• When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object’s material and the frequency (color) of the light. (MS-PS4-2)

• The path that light travels can be traced as straight lines, except at surfaces between different transparent materials (e.g., air and water, air and glass) where the light path bends.(MS-PS4-2)

• A wave model of light is useful for explaining brightness, color, and the frequency-dependent bending of light at a surface between media. (MS-PS4-2)

• However, because light can travel through space, it cannot be a matter wave, like sound or water waves. (MS-PS4-2)

PS4.C: Information Technologies and Instrumentation

• Digitized signals (sent as wave pulses) are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information. (MS-PS4-3)

This Activity covers NGSS Crosscutting Concepts (CCC):


• Graphs and charts can be used to identify patterns in data. (MS-PS4-1)

Structure and Function

• Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used. (MS-PS4-2)

• Structures can be designed to serve particular functions. (MS-PS4-3)

Connections to Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science

Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World

• Technologies extend the measurement, exploration, modeling, and computational capacity of scientific investigations. (MS-PS4-3)

Connections to Nature of Science

Science Is a Human Endeavor

• Advances in technology influence the progress of science and science has influenced advances in technology. (MS-PS4-3)

This activity includes the following vocabulary:








Analog signal

Digital signal


Light absorption

Longitudinal wave


Electromagnetic spectrum

Visible light spectrum


Mechanical waves




Sound intensity


Speed of Sound

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