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Physics Teacher Brings Angry Birds Game To Classroom

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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Denise Tejada

Using a slingshot and a bird, the goal of the game is to knock as many blocks as possible with the least amount of birds to successfully pass to the next level. Yup, you guessed right, Angry Birds. One teacher in Atlanta, Georgia, decided to incorporate the popular video game into his lesson plan after reading about the physics behind it (via science blogger, Rhett Allain).

I spoke with physics teacher John Burk, who teaches at Westminster Schools in Atlanta. We discussed his out-of-the-box lesson idea, and whether including a video game helped his students better understand physics.

Angry Birds and Physics: what do they have in common?

John Burk: People enjoy video games like Angry Birds because they take us into entirely different fantasy worlds. Those fantasy worlds have to have their own laws of physics, and it's a great mystery for students to see if we can divine those laws by conducting "experiments" in the Angry Birds'' world.

Was it difficult implementing this lesson in your class? What were the reactions from students when you introduced this new lesson?

Burk: It wasn't that difficult. The wonderful thing about the world of physics bloggers is that fantastic teachers like Rhett are willing to freely share their ideas, and I can use his work to get started in developing a lesson of my own. I think my students were pretty psyched when we started a new unit by projecting angry birds on the smart board playing a few a games as a class. It was a definite hook to get them asking questions.

 Did you get any flack from the principle, or parents of your students, when you implemented the game to your lesson?

Burk: No. Everyone enjoyed it. It was a one day lesson, and some students followed up later on projects to explore the other aspects of the physics of the game or other games, like tiny wings.

Overall, did your students understand physics better with this new format? How did you measure success?

Burk: I would say so. What I think working with Angry Birds teaches them is that even in a fantasy world of bright red birds warring with green pigs, it's possible to make careful observations and use those observations to discover things about the world that aren't immediately obvious—like the fact that if the Angry Bird world were similar to ours, the birds would be nearly half a meter in diameter.

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