Monday, July 25, 2016

Arcade Physics

I was trapped at attending a party at Chuck E Cheese yesterday and while being drug from game to game by the kids I noticed a few presented some interesting Physics applications.

The first was called Barrel of Monkeys after the long popular board game and featured the same iconic hand holding monkeys. This demo video goes through the game premise but at 40 seconds in you can notice some pendulum characteristics:

As the demo plays on we can see that as the monkeys in the chain increases the time. Timing would be difficult without some video editing and the length of the pendulum would have to be discussed in units of "monkeys." Ask students to analyze it and see if it holds true to what they have learned about Physics.

The second game that caught my eye was this "Slam A Winner" game that included a bouncy ball dropped through a tube towards a spinning wheel of holes. Each hole had a different ticket amount on it, of course the larger valued holes have yellow rings around the holes to increase bounce possibilities. Students could be given the height the ball drops through and figure out how long it would take to travel through it. If they know the time it takes the ball to fall they can figure out how much the wheel should be allowed to turn before they drop the ball if they know its radius. Should you drop the ball when the hole you want is a quarter of a turn away? half a turn? less? I would simplify the game for students by ignoring the bouncing part.

There were quite a few more that didn't quite behave as expected, usually due to parts of the game designed to make winning harder to do. You can ask students to analyze a game for basic Physics properties (mechanics, kinematics, collisions, etc.) asking them which parts of the game :
1. Follow principles of Physics as you would expect
2. Don't seem to be following Physics and why

Of course the air hockey table was great low friction fun; even if the two year old kept knocking the puck into his own goal. 

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