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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Thursday, April 18th, 2013
While we celebrate Earth Day on April 22, there’s never a bad time to start teaching kids about the environment. Young conservations can learn to care for the planet through interactive apps, educational programming on television and DVDs, and age appropriate websites. This guide featuring age appropriate suggestions for toddlers through teens is designed to provide engaging activities for everyon as they learn more about taking care of our planet.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Curious George Swings into Spring— From spring fever to spring cleaning, from a canoe ride to a hot air balloon journey, George and his friends get viewers ready to explore the outdoors this Earth Day in a one hour special airing on PBS stations on Monday, April 22. Curious George lovers who want to learn on the go will be interested in knowing that a new online game focusing on natural science concepts such as plant growth and butterfly metamorphosis will launch later this month.
- The Lorax— This interactive storybook app for iOS devices aims to create confident young readers thanks to three different ways that kids can interact with the well known Dr. Seuss classic. Children can choose to have the app auto play the story of The Lorax, have it read to them, or read it themselves as they work to build their reading skills. Words can be highlighted as they are read to help build sight word recognition in young children and kids can interact with the text and pictures with a tap.
- Sid the Science Kid— Through games, video, and printables, toddlers and preschoolers are exposed to a single scientific concept in a fun way. One of the themes is backyard science that encourages curious children to explore the homes of animals such as ants, birds, and squirrels that live outside their door since they serve as the building blocks for entomology, geology, and botany. PBS aligns available web content in order to allow them to learn more in parallel with available television programming.
Early Elementary Ages
- He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands —This DVD begins with a rendition of the American spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” and features a guide for parents and kids with tips on how to be green. Positive messages about diversity and beauty of the world are conveyed through stories like Jane Yolen’s “Owl Moon” that is about a magical, night-time walk through the snowy woods in search of the Great Horned Owl, “Come On, Rain!” an ode to a good, soaking, and the appreciative Thanksgiving address, “Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message.” With environmental issues top of mind, this DVD is perfect for a new generation of eco-conscious kids ages 5 and up.
- Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: Lions — This story app lets young ones Explore, Create, and Play their way through incredible animal adventures as kids join Ricky Raccoon and his friend, Lars the Lion, on a trip to the African grasslands. Kids discover how lions spend their days, raise their young, and much more through interactive photo stories, engaging games and creative play activities centered around a specific animal.
- Wild Kratts— Brothers Chris and Martin Kratt combine science education with adventure as they teach kids about amazing wild animals through their adventures that feature live action and animation. Early elementary ages are exposed to scientific concepts that are relevant to the animals explored in the 30 minute episode.
- Ranger Rick’s Treehouse — This virtual tree house is packed with clickable animal stories, comic adventures, multi-level games, videos, nature activities and wildlife mysteries around every corner. Children have the incentive to learn by earning badges when the show what they’ve learned!
- National Wildlife Foundation Activity Finder— If you’re tired of hearing the words “I’m bored” from your tween, put them in charge of their learning by having them research nearby activities that will be fun for the family. From geocaching, hikes, and so much more, the Activity Finder suggests a plethora of activities that help families connect with nature.
- DisneyNature Chimpanzee— Families will enjoy sitting down to meet Oscar, a three year old chimpanzee who is orphaned and raised by another chimp through a visually stunning nature documentary filmed in Africa. Children get an inside look at the life of chimpanzees, relationship between those within the community, and their struggle for survival.
Boy embracing globe of world via Shutterstock
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