How to Make a Sine Wave

You can make a three-dimensional object from a rectangular pattern by folding along the curves. Try it!

To get started, click on the pattern picture at right for a full-size image. The full-size image is 10 inches wide and will fit onto an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper. To fold along the curves, try pinching with your fingers and stabilizing using transparent tape.

If you would like to try drawing your own sine curve, just click on the picture at right for a full-size image. Like the pattern above, the full-size image will fit onto an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Professor Emeritus Stephen F. Jacobs by email at or by telephone at 520-749-3401.

Stephen F. Jacobs, creator of the sine wave pattern, has been a University of Arizona professor of optical sciences for more than 40 years. In addition to teaching, his research interests include dimensional stability, especially length changes over time at a constant temperature and thermal expansion at very low temperatures. Recently retired, his interests have expanded to include optics outreach at the K-12 level.

Jacobs' idea of folding along a curve to make a sine wave grew out of a conversation with professor Robert Greenler, a former president of the Optical Society (OSA), who is perhaps best known for his popular series of science education productions including "The Clarinet, The Washtub and the Musical Nails: How Musical Instruments Work" and "No Exit! Black Holes, Neutron Stars and Gravitational Collapse."

The picture at left shows Jacobs with one of his sine wave sculptures, an eight-foot-tall model on display at Tucson's Jewish Community Center.