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The Algebra of Angry Birds©

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Keywords: mathematics, science, algebra, physics, angry birds, quadratic equations
Subject(s): Algebra, Geometry, Physics, Math
Grades 6 through 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Willard Elementary School, South Elgin, IL
Planned By: Jason Franzke
Original Author: Jason Franzke, South Elgin
The project will integrate algebraic and physics concepts into our current students' curriculum through a hands-on, strategic exploration of a popular application called Angry Birds. The students will critically examine elements of gameplay by analyzing the underlying mathematics and science content within the game. Students will develop a conceptual understanding of quadratic equations, rate, and acceleration, among others. Using screenshots from the game, students will be able to complete real-world problems and scenarios using algebra and physics, and will then be able to test their accuracy using video clips from the Angry Birds game. Over the span of the entire project, students will receive additional hours of mathematics and science instruction that will be delivered entirely through an inquiry-based approach. The Angry Birds game content will be utilized to develop mathematical models that can be applied in a variety of real-world situations. New mathematics and science content will be presented to the group each session, and situations from game play will be used to develop student understanding of content. After a brief introduction, students will work in groups to solve the day's challenge. At the end of each session, students will present, defend, and test their solutions to the day's challenge.

The students will be able to use the parabolic flight of the birds in the Angry Birds© game to determine the roots of different quadratic equations that represent bird flight within the game. The students will be able to apply quadratic equations from mapped bird flight. The students explore calculating the roots of a quadratic equation given its apex using data from bird flight within the Angry Birds© game. Students will be able to apply the concepts of rate and acceleration to game play as well, using mathematical data from the game to calculate speed and projected accuracy. Students will be able to apply new mathematics and science content into new and unfamiliar settings to solve daily challenges in groups. As a condition of their participation, students will be responsible for a larger presentation to the entire Willard student body that will showcase the content they have learned and how they applied new mathematical and science content knowledge to familiar Angry Birds© game content.

Student learning will be assessed formally in a variety of ways. Since participation in the class will be mandatory, students will be assessed weekly on the mathematics and science content they have learned. These summative assessments will become part of their regular mathematics grades. These weekly assessments will culminate in a larger presentation to the entire Willard student body and community that will showcase the work the students have completed. As part of their presentation, students will be expected to explain not only how they used game content to demonstrate their learning, but how they are now able to integrate new mathematics and science content into real- world situations.

The students' work will be showcased through a number of different mediums. Willard has a website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and Pinterest page, and evidence of student progress and work will be regularly featured across our social media outlets. Additionally, we plan to videotape the students' work in these sessions to illustrate the mathematics and science conversations and discovery that will be happening in this project-based approach to new content. The presentation to the larger Willard student body and community will also be videotaped and featured to illustrate how our students were able to utilize this opportunity to supplement their learning in the classroom.

A proposed timeline for the project would be:
I. Week 1: Angry Birds Introduction
The students will receive an introduction to Angry Birds game content. Students will analyze the birds' different flight patterns and identify variables that affect bird flight.
II. Week 2: Introduction to Quadratic Equations
Quadratic equations will be introduced and identified in game play.
III. Week 3: Components of Quadratic Equations
Students will explore the parts of quadratic equations (e.g., roots, apex, etc.)found in game play.
IV. Weeks 4-6: Identifying Quadratic Equations in Angry Birds
Students will use scenarios from game play to create quadratic equations that satisfy specific conditions.
V. Weeks 7-8: Physics in Angry Birds
Students will explore physics content in Angry Birds (e.g., rate, acceleration.)
VI. Weeks 9-10: Summary Presentation
Students will present their project.
The additional resources that will be used to implement the project include teacher hours to implement the sessions over the 10 week project timeline. All Digital Wish resources will be used for materials to implement the project and to supplement ongoing mathematics and science instruction at Willard during the project timeline and beyond.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The project naturally integrates mathematics and science content, but the students will also be expected to complete a reflective essay upon completion of the project that will require the students to construct a personalized learning plan based on the content they learned during the unit.
Follow up activities will include extension units connecting to the mathematical and scientific concepts that were taught, including (but not limited to) students identifying and exploring the mathematics in their everyday experiences. Students will be expected to construct their own mathematical projectsd based on their participation in this project.
Links: Link to Willard on Facebook
Link to Willard on Pinterest
Link to Willard on Twitter
Materials: Whiteboards, DVD Camcorder, Auditorium, Scientific, Printers, Camera Bags, Tripods
Other Items: 1 Acer Aspire AS5552-7474 LX.R4402.263 Notebook PC, $ 400.00 each, total of $400.00
1 XY Grid Lap Board Kit, $ 170.00 each, total of $170.00
5 Chart Pads, 24x32, $ 75.00 each, total of $375.00