Today From Bedtime Math: Best Way to Throw an Angry Bird

What happens when Angry Birds and robots team up? Find out in this fun problem from Bedtime Math!
By Laura Overdeck
Apr 07, 2015

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Apr 07, 2015

Do you know any robots? A "robot" is any machine that does what it's told by following instructions from a computer. The robot could look like us, with robotic arms and legs, or it could just move around on wheels, like those vacuum cleaners that find their way on their own. It could even be just one lone arm, like the Delphi car-factory robot whose whole job is to press the same button 50,000 times to make sure it won't break. But some robots have more fun, especially those built by kids: Andrew here at Bedtime Math built this Angry Bird-chucking robot out of LEGO MINDSTORMS. As we see in this video, it drives forward until its light sensor sees the black firing line, which then tells the robot's arm motors to turn, flinging the stuffed animal into the air. Most robots do more exciting, difficult tasks, but this one might be having the most fun.

Now see if you and your kids can come up with the answers to these math problems:

Wee ones: If the tower of blocks hit by the Angry Bird has 3 layers, what numbers would you say to count them?

Little kids: If the robot takes 7 seconds to find the black line and then 2 seconds to fling the Angry Bird, how long does the whole mission take?  Bonus: If you speed up the robot to do it 1 second faster, now how long does it take?

Big kids: If the Angry Bird robot gets programmed to zigzag, and to fire the bird after every 5th turn, what number bird does it throw on the 30th turn?  Bonus: If the robot needs to throw that Angry Bird 10,000 times and it's done all but the last one, how many throws has it already done?
 
Answers:
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3.
Little kids: 9 seconds.  Bonus: 8 seconds.
Big kids: The 6th bird.  Bonus: 9,999 throws.
 
 

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