Real Life Angry Birds
Team member: Jane Chua, Cody Soska, Jean Zhang
Bring the popular mobile game to life! Kids can experiment hands on with the physics of building structures and launching birds. They are divided into 2 teams, one to build a tower to house the pigs and the other to launch birds to knock down the tower. This toy is recommended for children ages 8 and up.
Transfer of energy from downward force on one end of the lever to upward force on the other end.
Springs (Elastic Potential Energy)
Storage and release of energy by stretching and releasing spring.
Effect of shape and weight of projectile on its flight path. Launch angle and energy transfer can also be experimented with.
Different methods of stacking and attaching blocks create structures of varying stability.
Kids need to work together to build a cohesive structure. They must also take turns to launch the birds.
How to make it
- Beam for lever, we used a PVC pipe
- Axle for lever, we used a metal rod
- Wood to build supports
- Spring or bungee cord
- Bowl shaped holder for bird, we used an aluminum lamp shade
- Birds of different shapes and weights (eg. bean bags, foam, bouncy ball, cardboard boxes)
- Lightweight blocks (eg. cardboard or foam)
- Various mechanisms for connecting blocks (eg. magnets, velcro)
- Pigs (we used pigs that separated into 2 halves after falling)
Building the Catapult
- Create a firm base to mount the catapult. This can either be a solid sheet of wood or two planks that are secured together. It should lie flat on the ground.
- Secure 2 supports vertically to the base. They should be spaced far enough apart to fit the lever (PVC pipe in picture) in between.
- Drill holes through both supports and the lever and fit the axle through. The hole should be a tight fit through the lever and a loose fit through the supports. This allows it to rotate along with the lever without too much friction from the supports.
- Attach one end of the spring to the shorter end of the lever and the other end of the spring to the base . We used a screw eye to attach it to the base and drilled a small hole in the PVC pipe to hook the spring through. The spring should not be in tension when the lever is not depressed.
- Attach the bowl to the long end of the lever. This should be on the opposite end to where the spring is attached. The bowl should be large enough to hold the bird.
- Test the catapult by placing a bird in the bowl, then pushing the bowl down and releasing. Weigh the base down if necessary to keep the catapult stable. Adjust the springs so that they are strong enough to launch the bird, but not too strong that the lever cannot be pushed down.
Assembling the Blocks
- Make large lightweight blocks either using cardboard or foam. We used cardboard blocks that were 3″ x 6″ x 12″
- Add attachments on the surface of the blocks to allow stronger structures to be built. For example, we attached magnets and velcro to the blocks. Be sure to use both sides for attachments that are asymmetric (eg. attach magnets such that some have the north pole facing outwards and others have the south pole facing outwards)
- Experiment building different structures with the blocks using the different attachments to make them stronger. Make sure that the attachments are not so strong that the birds cannot knock them down.
Conducting the Game
- Split the players into 2 teams: BUILD and LAUNCH.
- Team BUILD should create a structure out of the blocks that can support the pigs in a way that they are exposed and not touching the ground.
- Team LAUNCH can then launch the birds to knock down the structure and make the pigs fall.
- Team LAUNCH wins if they successfully knock down all the pigs (and they split in half, if using separating pigs). Team BUILD wins if team LAUNCH runs out of birds before knocking down all the pigs.
Child Safety: Be sure to let children know to stay clear of the catapult. User testing shows that children have a tendency to put their face over the bowl while they are launching birds.
For younger children, they should select the birds they’d like, and an adult can launch for them.
The base of the catapult should be weighed down.
The fulcrum of the lever is adjustable.