Innovative Uses

Can Angry Birds Help Teach Physics?

Angry Birds video analysis with Logger Pro 3

Teachers Share Video Analysis Ideas on Twitter.

Students always have a lot of fun analyzing motion in their own videos using Vernier Video Physics or Logger Pro 3. Another way to encourage interesting discussion of the nature of motion is to analyze movies that appear to defy the laws of physics, such as viral videos and video gameplay. Teachers have been seizing these teachable moments to engage their students in rich problems and analysis.

Frank Noschese (@fnoschese), a teacher at John Jay High School in Cross River, NY, maintains a collection he calls “Win? Fail? physics!” According to Noschese, his students are engaged when they investigate a video to find evidence to “support or refute their immediate, visceral reaction.” He believes that incorporating video analysis “strips the problem to its core: Win or Fail? Students do the cognitive weightlifting.” You can learn more about Noschese’s approach and use videos he has collected at his blog.

Rhett Allain (@rjallain), author of the Wired blog, Dot Physics, has long been a proponent of using video analysis technology to help students judge whether viral movies are real or fake. Last fall, he wrote an article about the physics of Angry Birds that motivated excited users to run the popular video game through its physical paces. Noschese also posted Angry Birds videos on his blog that are ideal for video analysis. John Burk (@occam98), of The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, GA, added to the discussion with his approach to teaching projectile motion through the use of Angry Birds video analysis.

A great place to start is with the seemingly simple question: What is the gravitational acceleration in the world of angry Birds? Noschese and another physics teacher, Michael Magnuson, have posed additional tricky questions such as whether momentum is conserved when birds split into three or drop an egg.

Do you have viral videos you want to share and analyze? Surprising video analysis results? Stories of using video analysis with your students? Share resources on our discussion forum or tweet with the hashtag: #videoanalysis

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