4 Lesson Plans Using NEWTON'S PLAYGROUND
Newton’s Playground (NP) is a digital physics sandbox game that is designed to teach players a variety of physics concepts. Players are presented with a series of challenges in which they must move a ball across obstacles using drawn-in machines (levers, pullies, springs, etc). While students are interacting with the game, they implicitly learn specific science concepts such as Newtonian Physics, systems thinking, and energy conservation, in addition to specific processes of science like engineering and designing elegant solution strategies.
Below is an excerpt from the creator’s website, describing the game in further detail:
“Newton's Playground is a computer game that emphasizes two-dimensional physics simulations, including gravity, mass, kinetic energy, and transfer of momentum. Everything obeys the basic rules of physics relating to gravity and Newton's three laws of motion. The player can nudge the ball to the left and right (if the surface is flat), but the primary way to move the ball is by drawing physical objects on the screen that 'come to life' once the object is drawn.”
Newton's playground breakdown
Ease of Use
Newton’s Playground requires simple mouse or cursor controls, used to draw various objects. Players can draw objects by holding the left-click control and dragging the cursor across the screen. Right-clicking on a user-created object will erase it.
Agent Tutorials contains four short tutorials, showing players how to make four different simple machines (lever, pendulum, ramp, and springboard) that are essential to solving the various levels within the game.
There are seven Playgrounds, each containing a set of different levels with the same basic goal: find a way to get the ball to the balloon with 10 or fewer user-created drawings. A variety of obstacles is in the way, requiring players to move the ball or other objects that already exist within the level to complete the challenge.
The game ramps up in difficulty as players go from Playground 1 to Playground 7. However, all levels can be played from the beginning, so players are not required to complete previous levels to access later ones.
Finally, Newton’s Playground also contains a replay viewer as a built-in assessment tool. By clicking on the “NP Replay Viewer” icon, which is a separate icon from the actual game, players can watch how they, or others, solved (or didn’t solve) the levels. The NP Replay Viewer requires Newton’s Playground to be downloaded on the same PC in order to work.