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5 Things Angry Birds Can Teach Kids About Physics

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Angry Birds is the number one downloaded app worldwide and while we may think our kids are wasting away precious hours slingshotting birds into caged pigs, there are many scientific concepts that can be learned from the addictive game. National Geographic’s Angry Birds Furious Forces describes the complicated physics at play in the world’s most popular game. With chapters titled mechanics, sound and light, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and particle physics and beyond, parents who had previously felt guilty about allowing their Angry Birds obsessed kids can rest easier knowing that there’s some serious science behind the game that’s presented in easy to understand language in a format that’s fun for kids and adults alike.

What five basic scientific concepts do kids really learn through their endless hours of playing any version of Angry Birds?

Physics- The book begins with an introduction by Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Marketing Officer of Rovio Entertainment, who writes, “Angry Birds fans come face-to-face with basic principles of physics every time they take aim with the slingshot.”

Motion and trajectory- The act of flinging a bird into the air represents motion while the trajectory is the path that it takes to reach the pigs. The first chapter builds on motion by introducing projectile motion too. Roller coaster enthusiasts will identify with the motion of the cars on favorite rides.

Force- Force is required to pull back and Angry Bird and also bust open the pigs’ crates but there are also other forces that can cause objects to speed up or slow down. Angry Birds Furious Forces also provides additional concrete examples such as baseball and skateboarding to describe forces at work.

Kinetic energy- Kinetic energy is a tricky concept to understand but explaining stored energy in relation to familiar objects such as the rubber band that launches the bird, provides a concrete example that kids can relate to. The book describes kinetic energy at work by describing the behavior of the birds as they reach their targets. “The faster the bird moves, the more energy it has…As the bird gets higher, it slows down, so its kinetic energy decreases.”

Gravity and weight- Real world examples interspersed with those from the game enrich this book even more as it explains gravity as the pull of the Earth but as it relates to weightlessness that astronauts feel in space.

Angry Birds Furious Forces serves as a great introduction to basic physics concepts for young ages because they’re presented in a way that kids can relate to as they play their favorite game. Older students who grapple with the abstract nature of physics will appreciate the way the book uses real world examples to provide concrete examples of more complex topics like relativity, gravitational potential energy, vectors, matter, along with protons, neutrons, and molecules. This book also makes Angry Birds loving parents a little envious that the game didn’t exist when we were kids because we all could have benefitted from this book to help make high school and college physics a little more fun and easy to relate to.

Little boys playing on smartphone via Shutterstock

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