Using A Simulation to Test the Predicted Ranges of Angry Bird Launches

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Students will calculate the ranges of three angry bird launches and test their calculations for range using a projectile motion simulation.

Big Idea

The maximum range of a projectile corresponds to a 45 degree launch angle.

Do Now: Bell-ringer

5 minutes

One goal of this lesson is to help students use a simulation to study the relationship between launch angle and initial velocity on a projectile's horizontal displacement. This lesson addresses the HS-PS2-1 standard because it asks students to use a simulation to study an object whose acceleration directly relates to the force of gravity. It aligns with the NGSS Practices of Developing and Using Models (SP2), Constructing Explanations (SP6), and Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information (SP8) for Science because students choose options from a Tic-Tac-Toe board to explain projectile motion factors like range.

This portion of the lesson uses a Classroom Strategy with a red copy-this label in the top left hand corner of the slide where student jot down the date, objective and one additional piece of information like a BIG IDEA, quick fact or quote. Today's additional piece of information is a BIG IDEA that states that the maximum range of projectile corresponds to a launch angle of 45 degrees. I choose this BIG IDEA because it connects to the goal of the video game which is to hit targets by manipulating the angle a user launches a bird. The BIG IDEA gets students thinking about the concept of limits on the horizontal displacement of a projectile.

I design my curriculum to be engaging to students and help them leverage skills from their social lives to help them learn to integrate complex material in their academic lives. In this lesson, I ask students to leverage the skill of pattern recognition. This is related to because students have to use their understanding of patterns of motion in order to predict the motion of the angry bird and hit the target with better accuracy and precision.

Quick Notes: Analyzing A Round of Angry Birds

10 minutes

In this portion of the lesson, I spend the first five minutes showing an image of the first level of angry birds. I have students analyze the Angry Birds image and then I project a Noticings and Wonderings protocol on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room to help students make connections between the image and physics concepts we have covered thus far in the semester. During the noticings and wonderings protocol, students are given a visual stimulus and complete a T-chart with the headings "I Notice" and "I Wonder" that relate to the visual. During this portion of the lesson, I ask students to describe the best method to launch the angry bird in order to maximize its range. Students recognize the pattern that sine and cosine of complementary angles yield the same value and we tease out the idea that since 45 degrees is self-complementary and results in the maximum range of a projectile. 

While students write down concepts they notice and wonder about in their notebooks, I circulate and check student responses in each column. Some student responses include, "There are vectors drawn on the angry bird that show its initial velocity","The angry bird is launched by angling the slingshot", and "If you want to hit the pig that is furthest away, pull the bird back in the slingshot and trace a parabola with your finger releasing the bird when your parabola lands on the pig".  I use this activity because the video game has become iconic and is easily recognized by students. I like Angry Birds as a model of motion because it allows students to organically define concepts like maximum height, the range of a projectile and the total air time of a parabolic trajectory.

Analyzing Launch Data of An Angry Bird

25 minutes

During the first five minutes of this portion of the lesson, I distribute an activity which gives students the initial velocity including the launch angle for three angry bird launches. I ask students to use the next fifteen minutes to determine which launch has the maximum height and range individually. Students complete the data table on the sheet and write the corresponding step by step solutions in their lab notebooks. After fifteen minutes have elapsed I ask students to discuss this portion of the lesson with their elbow partners to compare best practices for solving problems of this type. 

I distribute Chromebooks for students to use and ensure that each pair of students has access to the simulation. Students work in pairs to complete this activity to Apply a Mathematical Model For Range to Simulation of a System using this simulation that I introduced in an earlier lesson.  After five minutes have elapsed, I ask students to spend the next fifteen minutes Testing Predictions using the projectile motion simulation introduced in an earlier lesson. While students are testing their predictions, I circulate the room giving written and verbal feedback to students who have puzzles or questions regarding the content or the task. After fifteen minutes have elapsed I ask students to complete the analysis questions in their lab notebooks. I remind students to use the digital textbook from openStax as a credible resource for their research when answering the analysis questions.

Tic-Tac-Toe: Assessing Student Understanding of Projectile Motion

30 minutes

At this point in the semester, students have used several types of choice boards and are comfortable choosing how I assess their current level of understanding of a topic. I choose to use a choice board to give students with varying skill levels authority over the manner that  their understanding of the concept of a projectile motion and range. During this section of the lesson, I ask students pairs to spend the next thirty minutes completing a projectile motion themed Tic-Tac-Toe Board with visual, linguistic and logical domains. Students may write responses in their notebooks, on whiteboards, chart paper or use a shared google document that they share with me and their partner. Some of the more popular choices include creating a mind map, comparing and contrasting range on Earth and another planet, and comparing the ranges of two different angry bird launches. 

While students are completing this activity, I circulate the room giving written and verbal feedback to students who have puzzles or questions regarding the content or the task.  At the end of this lesson, I ask students to demonstrate their understanding of projectile motion concepts using a differentiated exit slip. Click herehere, and here to see examples of student work.  


5 minutes

During this portion of the lesson, I distribute an Exit Slip that has multiple entry points and is graded on a scale of Not Yet to Highly Proficient. Students spend five minutes completing the exit slip. They begin by choosing at which I assess their work. The various entry point levels are student-selected and increase in difficulty, ranging from competent to highly proficient.

The base entry level choice on the Exit Slip asks students to sketch and label the physics concepts that relate to the first round of an angry birds level. The mid-level choice on the Exit Slip asks both of those tasks plus it asks students to show mathematically that a launch angle of 45 degrees yields the maximum range. The highest level choice on the Exit Slip asks for the above tasks plus it asks students to show calculations for all of the factors that affect the motion of an angry bird. To wrap up, I collect the Exit Slips and remind students to return any borrowed materials including the Chromebooks to the Resource area at the front of the room.