A simple virtual physics environment. Also a fun game.
Crayon Physics is an open-ended game that permits creative drawing and problem solving.
How I Use It
I used it for introductory activities in a robotics class. I wanted my students to think about how to design solutions to problems. The main things students can create with Crayon Physics are shapes with various weights, inclined planes, and fulcrums / pivot points. I believe that one version of the game permits ropes and pulleys, too, but I don't recall my students having access to these. In any case, students quickly had access to several tools they could use, and they could see instant results as their drawings went into action. As soon as one finishes drawing a shape, the rules of physics begin applying to it. A shape drawn in the air immediately starts falling, for instance. Shapes touching other shapes roll, tip, push, or (in some cases) pull. The goal for using this was getting my students to think like designers and problem solvers. I wanted them to see that there are multiple solutions to a problem and that it's worth discussing the merits of each. I also wanted them to get used to creating a prototype, testing it out, and rapidly revising. Crayon Physics worked well for these goals. Crayon Physics requires installation, so save some time if you need to download and install on multiple computers.