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Radio Waves Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Mark Boster
Have you ever wondered how the voices and the music on your radio get there? When you were little you might have thought there was someone inside. Learn the real truth about the radio waves that make the radio and many other inventions possible.

Cable TV?

Antonio was flying his paper airplane in the house when it went behind the television. He saw that there were a lot of cables going from the wall and boxes to the TV and one didn't go into the electrical outlet. He asked his father why there was a cable coming out of the wall that wasn't an electrical cord. His father told him that if it weren't for that cable, they wouldn't have a TV picture or sound. Well, Antonio wanted to know how radios work without wall cables. Do you know how radios and other things work without cables? It's through something called radio waves.

Making a Radio Wave

Hey, let's make a radio wave. Here's how to do it.

  1. Get a fresh 9-volt battery and a nickel.
  2. Have your parents turn on the car and put the radio on a station that's all static.
  3. Hold the battery and the coin near the antenna.
  4. Touch the battery terminals to the coin and it will make a noise on the radio!

You just made a radio wave. It isn't very strong, but it's a wave!

Now let's learn more about radio waves!

Make a Radio Wave
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Radio Waves

Think of a magnet and your refrigerator. When you put a magnet on there it sticks and sometimes is even pulled toward the refrigerator. You can't see it, but there's a magnetic field that pulls them together.

Likewise, if you rub a balloon against your hair or cat it will stick to the wall through something you may have heard of called static electricity. If you want, you can go give it a try now. The lesson will be here when you get back.

Radio waves are actually electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves are made when a magnetic field and an electric field come together to make a wave. This isn't a wave you can see, but it's a wave that provides us with sound, energy, colors, x-rays and other cool stuff.

Without radio waves, our life would be dramatically different. We wouldn't have cell phones, radios, baby monitors, and airplanes wouldn't know where to go. Without radio waves, we couldn't have microwave ovens, garage door openers, or even satellites. Let's take a closer look at the radio wave.

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