Here’s an interesting diversion that Johnson Controls posted on their web site recently… It’s borderline being a game, but it’s a great engineering and physics exercise for both parents and kids. It unfortunately just killed an hour of time that I should have been working on the mean/median worksheets here.
Coconut Run Physics Simulation
[Alas, the Coconut Run game appears to be no more… If someone has a new link, please leave a comment!]
The object of the game is to build a small powered cart that moves coconuts across a primitive obstacle coarse. It appears to be a fairly accurate physics simulation, which makes for some very interesting tinkering. It’s too bad they didn’t provide a few more hints for design, but here are a few shortcuts…
- Coconuts shifting their mass around in the cart is bad. If your cart captures the coconuts so they don’t bounce around, the cart will be much more stable.
- A low/wide center of gravity helps prevent your cart from tipping over. Try to collect the coconuts near the bottom of your design.
- More parts means more mass which means poor acceleration.
- Smaller wheels tend to get stuck in things, but bigger wheels tend to add mass.
- You can actually make your cart quite wide by drawing parts out across where the tool palette is placed on the screen. This will let you put a long forward arm with a wheel on it to help prevent the cart from tipping.
I managed a 63% efficiency score [UPDATE:89%!!] by moving all 15 coconuts to the end in just under a minute. Time invested purely in the name of research, obviously. Enjoy!