The Physics Of Angry Birds

The Physics Of Angry Birds

Subject: Physics
Time: 2-3 class periods (45 minutes each)

Physics; best-suited for students who have had pre-calculus and a basic understanding of Newton's laws.


The activity has two main parts: 1.) Gathering data and 2.) Analyzing data and forming models/equations. The students will use computational tools to capture the motion of an Angry Bird in its world, record the data, determine the mathematical functional form of the data, and ultimately derive the gravitational acceleration on the Angry Birds’ world.

Student Outcomes

Learner Objectives:

  1. Students are able to apply the equations of motion in a new context.

  2. Students are able to use a computer simulation to generate data

  3. Students are able to use a spreadsheet program to fit a mathematical model to their data.

  4. Students understand the impact of short versus long time steps in a computer simulation.

  1. Applications of learning: The students apply their knowledge of Newton's mechanics in solving a novel problem with a method that few, if any, will have used before.

  2. Communicating: The students are instructed to generate a graph clearly showing their results.

  3. Using technology: The students learn to use a program to fit their data to a model.

  4. Working on teams: We encouraged working together in groups.

  5. Making connections: We hope to promote the use of computer simulations in attacking physics problems rather than just as a tool for visualizing the data.


- Students should be familiar with the equations of motion and how to apply them to projectiles.

- Familiarity with spreadsheets and organizing scientific data will come in handy when graphing and interpreting the results of the simulation.

Compatible With




chrome books



What's Next?


Next Generation Science Standards
  • Physical Science
    • [HS-PS2] Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions

Computational Thinking in STEM
  • Modeling and Simulation Practices
    • Assessing Computational Models
  • Computational Problem Solving Practices
    • Choosing Effective Computational Tools
  • Data Practices
    • Analyzing Data
    • Collecting Data
    • Creating Data

Comments, Feedback, and Quesitons

The Physics Of Angry Birds

Teacher Notes


  • A computer lab with at least one computer per student is recommended, but groups may be formed for classrooms with less computer resources.
  • Either way, the students should work in small groups (even if each is working on their own computer).
  • Keep in mind that a strong student may dominate the group work.
  • The activity should be straightforward when following the instructions and serve mostly as an introduction into computer simulations.
  • The instructor should give immediate help if the question has to do with a technical question about using the tools.

The activity has two main parts:

            1. Gathering data

            2. Analyzing data and forming models/equations

The instructor should write up a few steps on how to set up the activity based on their individual set up. An example is given in the handout.

Important: The instructor should lead the students through the downloading and installation process of the various programs.

The instructor should also demonstrate how to gather the data from the simulation.

The students will then record an example of projectile motion in the simulation, using the software provided in class. An example of how to capture a video using screen-cast-o-matic is given in the handout.

Once the students have a recording they should open Physics Tracker and track the motion of the projectile using the tools provided (explained in detail in the handout). The students will then scale the simulation using reasonable assumptions and derive the gravitational acceleration on the Angry Birds world.

Pre-class Preparation

  • Student computers with chrome installed.
  • To save class time, you may consider working with your IT to download and set up the various programs beforehand, though this is part of the learning process for using computational tools.
  • The instructor should be familiar with the activity, preferably running it before to better understand the possible pitfalls and more difficult areas of the activity.

Materials and Tools

  • A computer lab with chrome with angry birds, physics tracker, and optionally, Microsoft Excel.
  • Also, a whiteboard or blackboard is useful for demonstrating the activity as well as a projector so the teacher can model certain parts of the activity.


  • If the same assumptions are made (reference sizes for objects in the simulation), the students should come to a similar result for the gravitational constant in the Angry Birds world. Have the students consider what would change if the assumptions given were different.
  • The activity is meant to be an introduction to computational thinking and computer simulations. Assessment of this aspect is through asking the students conceptual questions as they work through the handouts. In particular, check in with them throughout about the logic of the procedure they are following and whether it is optimal.