This project involved more than 70 students, primarily drawn from the freshman class. Four Engineering & Physics professors led the project: Drs. Tim Head, Matt Steele, Jim Cutbirth, and Ken Olree.
The students have been learning to apply basic physics concepts and the importance of modeling and checking those models against experimental results. Key physical concepts being learned include forces, kinematics (how objects move), work, potential and kinetic energy. The students have primarily worked in Matlab, an engineering software package. Once the modeling was completed, students designed and built over-sized catapults capable of launching dodge balls at pig castles made of large cardboard boxes.
Last week, competitions were held to see which teams could knock down the most pigs in the fewest shots, had the best precision, had the best model, could shoot the farthest, and could get the highest velocity. A lot of innovation and team spirit was displayed. One team was able to knock down all the pigs with one shot, and another group’s angry bird reached a velocity of 100 mph.
This week, students have presented the results of the project including what they’ve learned from the process of modeling, designing, building, and testing their launchers. It’s clear, fun was had by all and the spirit of angry birds lives on.
Here is the film from last year to give you some idea of the challenge.