Learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion becomes fun when kids do it by whacking, smacking, and chucking pucks in a new free Internet game called 3 Puck Chuck. Found on the website of the popular PBS Kids’ television show ZOOM at http://pbskids.org/zoom/games/3puckchuck, the game explores different physics principles in its seven levels of play. The game uses “Flash 6.0,” a free web plug-in (download at www.macromedia.com).
Termed the “game of collisions and decisions,” 3 Puck Chuck starts with a hands-on tutorial. Kids discover that pucks which weigh different amounts, but are whacked with the same amount of force, will move different distances. Youngsters also experiment with friction by whacking pucks across different surfaces including ice, grease, gum, muck, and a rug. And they test what happens when a moving puck collides with a stationary puck.
These scientific principles are incorporated into the game’s seven levels. In each level, kids try to smack the “goal” puck into a hole (goal) by using three other pucks of different weights. Players control the amount of force and the direction of the force by pulling back one of their three pucks. The farther you pull back, the greater the force.
In the first level, kids face an obstacle-free playing surface with walls that produce a rebound. However, by the second level, they will experience both ice patches and muck puddles. The levels increase in difficulty by adding more obstacles including gum, sinkholes, conveyor belts, spinners, rugs, bumpers, and grease slicks.
This game is fun to explore alone, but it is even more fun to play in the two-player mode. In the latter, each player has three pucks of different weights, and the object is to be the first to smack the “goal” puck into the hole. Players can earn extra points by sending their opponent’s pucks into the sticky glue—or even better, into the disappearing sinkholes.
To win, kids must take into account Newton’s Laws of Motion as they adjust their game play to deal with the obstacles and different surfaces. It’s a game that subtly teaches physics while kids play, and its FREE.
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