Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08

Student: Jeremy Whelan

Mentor: Patty Lein


Title: The Wave


For my senior project I have chosen to write about the mathematical equations and the science behind waves. Many people know what a wave is, and may even know how it is formed. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much information that is to be known about them, and after all, we do live right next to them. I decided to write a research paper about waves and create a large wave tank. My dad and I built a three foot by six foot wave tank and created interchangeable “reefs” that can be put in wave tank to create different waves. Since I am an avid surfer, I have always been interested in ocean waves, so I took this opportunity to further explore my infatuation with the waves.  


This is the completed tank at the night of the opening.







This is the first stage of my project.




This is the Reef that we built for the wave tank.


This is the wave tank's Paddle.


This is the wave tank fully completed.



Looking back at this five month period, I have grown and learned more than I have expected. My goal was to further educate myself as a surfer, and wanted to share the information that I learned towards others who are interested. I first became interested in the ocean when I was in 7th grade. I took up surfing then, and became instantly obsessed. I decided to study waves and do my project on them for many reasons. One is i live on the ocean, so why not take advantage of this great opportunity.

In tenth grade, I did a similar project, only the wave tank was one ninth the size, and I did not write a solid paper on waves. so that's why I wanted to use senior project time and create a better and more improved wave tank.

One of the aspects that I studied was the creation of waves. I looked up books throughout the Internet, libraries, and my own home to come up with this information. By doing this research, I learned the most about waves, and I could actually use it in every day surfing life. Now when I look at a wave breaking or a beach in Easthampton I do not just look and watch a wave break in awe, rather think to myself, well there is a gradual slope there, deeper part here and etc.

Another aspect of my project was to make a paper about the way waves breaks and the reefs and how they affect the waves. I looked at many different reefs and found out how they break either by watching them, or seeing photographs of them breaking. I used this information when I was constructing the reefs for my wave tank, which was the third part of my project.

The third part of my project, my wave tank, was done with the help of my father. I was always interested in creating a wave tank and messing around with the interchangeable bottoms or reefs. For this part of the project, not only did I learn how to build a wave tank, and better my understanding in construction, but I was able to put my knowledge to the test and actually try and physically create waves breaking on top of an assortment of bottoms.

After completing my project, not only was I excited to be finished, but I was content with the amount of information that I have learned. I have discovered new information that will be crucial to my surfing career in helping my pick which waves to go for and which ones not to. My whole Ross School career, I have been dreading senior projects, and now that they are officially over, I realized that i can do it, and cant wait to get other underclassmen psyched up and ready for it.

Works Cited

Colas, Antony Y. The World. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Cornwall: Low Pure, 2001.

Dysthe, Kristian, Hervé Socquet-Juglard, Karsten Truslen, and Harald E. Krogstad. "Freak Waves, Rogue Waves, Extreme Waves and Ocean Wave Climate." University of Oslo. 5 Dec. 2004. Viewed Nov 2007. <>.

Freudenrich, Dr. Craig. "How Light Works." HowStuffWorks.Com. 2002. Viewed Dec. 2007. <>.

“Geography Dictionary”. 2004. Viewed Jan. 2008. <>.

Horan, Cheyne. “Cheyne Horan School of Surf”. Dec. 2007. Viewed Jan. 2008. <>.

Judez, Hector. "Waves." Library.Thinkquest.Org. 1998. Viewed Oct. 2007. <>.

Mennie, Al. "Ireland's Big-Wave Spot Aileens Goes Big for July 1 Swell." July 2007. Viewed Dec. 2008. <>.

"The Pacific Ocean." Weather on Oceans. 2002. Viewed Nov. 2007. <>.

Pidwirny, Dr. Michael. "CHAPTER 7: Introduction to the Atmosphere." PhysicalGeography.Net. 2007. Viewed Nov. 2007. <>.

Swanton, Will. "Big-Wave Junkies Come Out to Play." The Age. 17 Feb. 2007. Viewed Jan. 2008. <>.

Community Member (Details)

My Community Member is Tripoli Patterson. Trip has been a life long surfer, and has traveled to dozens of countries to surf. He is now Professional, and does major competitions throughout the world. I choose Trip because of his experience with not only waves, but with the reefs underneath them, and how they affect the way the waves break on top of them. He gave me some very helpful ideas, and his input was very necessary.

If you need to contact him, his number is 903-9220.