A flash-based math Trajectories Game for inner city students?

Posted on 2010-01-08
Last Modified: 2013-12-27

My husband is a 9-12 math teacher who is looking for someone who can do a quick flash program variation to help inner city kids in Milwaukee get more involved and excited about learning math.  I realize this isn't a typical post, but if anyone here is willing and able to do this or know someone who would, it would really make a difference.  Below is the letter he wrote explaining his lesson idea and the game.



I am a 9-12 math teacher at Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I want to reform the way math is taught here in Milwaukee to a more real-world problem-solving format that kids can relate to. There isnt a lot of fun in math here in the US.

I am currently teaching a unit on trajectories and how to calculate firing solutions. I was hoping to modify a flash game I believe is a perfect fit for the unit I am teaching.

Some of you might be familiar with the flash game Bowman. Here is a link to the game if you want to see it (sorry about the intro commercial).

The students know the game but and it is a very good game for teaching trajectories and quadratics with real world applications, but it has its limitations.

It uses the mouse to allow the user enter power AND angle at the same time. This makes entering a firing solution, which sometimes must be accurate to the hundredths, very tricky and difficult. There are other problems as well. I contacted some professors at MSOE (Milwaukee School Of Engineering) and they chose either not to reply or to give me programs that did not meet even the basic constraints of what I was asking. (Go figure!)

What I need is for both the angle and velocity of an arrow to be inputted into the computer via keyboard instead of the mouse. I also need the opponents distance and windspeed (when not 0) displayed on the screen or upon request before the arrow is shot. Thats it. An option to get a shot summary after a shot has landed with the number of seconds an arrow was aloft, how far away it traveled along the ground (its x-coordinate relative to the shooter) and its maximum height would also be valuable. Otherwise its a perfect program.

I dont know anything about flash, and dont have time to learn how to capture its code and modify it to make it work for my unit. My kids would love the challenge&Wouldnt you want to shoot a few of your old professors with arrows?

Kids will be challenged to beat me at Bowman. Ill let them go first because otherwise Ill always win (MU-HAHAHA!) This will be used to teach inner city kids the value of math particularly parametric graphing, quadratics, trigonometry, substitution, roots and fun.

I would appreciate any assistance you could offer.

Thanks again,

Question by:courtenayt
    LVL 26

    Expert Comment

    " they chose either not to reply or to give me programs that did not meet even the basic constraints of what I was asking. (Go figure!)"
    I am not surprised. You say  your do not have time to learn programing. Neither do they.
    A rough estimate of the time value for which you are asking is at least $10,000 for a rough draft.
    The basic idea is excellent however. I suspect that if you really want your game, you will have to learn a bit of programing. A start has been done in physics. The trajectory problem is a popular topic.
    I suggest that you would find the following book interesting
    Physlets by Christian and Belloni     Prentice Hall   ISBN 0-13-2099341-5
    they create very interactive html pages with JavaScript, relatively easy to learn. including games.
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    Hmm, it's possible for me to help. However, there's a condition.

    The condition is I will only be able to code for you, and not do the graphics(P.S. I can't draw). You have to do the graphics yourself.

    Of course, I have my own things to do first and that will be my priority. I may or may not code for you but can guide you to it.

    No kidding but wanting someone to do this perhaps is like what aburr said. Therefore you might want to learn by yourself.

    Otherwise, I can provide free guidance on how to do it but I may or may not code for you, depending on whether I have time to spare.

    Good luck :)
    LVL 39

    Expert Comment

    hello I failed science at school so trajectories and all that may well be beyond me.
    Do you simply want the game so that they input the 2 variables and then game play is the same?
    must there be storing of data? options for against computer or human etc? all those must be in there as well?
    when do you want this done ideally?
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Ideally the game would be exactly the same except that the distance to your opponent, windspeed if >0 and wall height if > 0 would be displayed at the bottom of the screen. If you need to see the game with a windspeed or a wall click on the options menu before playing. After a shot is fired perhaps a menu that gave the options of shot summary or just to comtinue to the next players turn would be good. The shot summary would include the time (s) the arrow was aloft and the distance the arrow traveled along the ground. (x-coordinate of the arrow relative to the shooter.) and the maximum height the arrow achieved. I have all the knowledge of the math behind trajectories.

    Is there a way to get the code for bowman and just modify it? That would be ideal!

    I want to thank you all for your responses. I am definitely a firm believer in learning new things and not afraid to tackle projects. I am currently teaching in a new school, have a new Math teacher leader administrative position, am department chair, teach full time and and am pursuing a masters program. My plate is a little full right now. Right now I am so desperate I am using a pitching machine to try and model some trajectories because I don't have the time to do anything else. There may be more to teaching than you understand. My job is to manage 60 workers who are forced to go to work, don't get paid anything, and can't be fired, and 2 teachers who do get paid but have no incentive to teach beyond the district mandated curriculum of memorize, cram, spit it out and forget it. My evaluation depends on their productivity. That and a test that is given to my students who have no incentive to do well because it is yet another state mandated test.

    I am not a programmer and I do not no anything about flash. Ideally it would be great to have the problem done ASAP, but any time frame will do.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    I am especially grateful to those of you who offered your help. If you do help you will be helping some inner city kids and giving them opportunities to have a fun and enriching education. Thank you

    I have found several versions of the game Bowman on-line. including bowman 2, bowman 1.5, and bowman CHEATING. It seems possible to find the code and modify it.

    It seems that others have somehow been able to modify this game to their own ends. It is not clear to me why $10,000 dollars is needed to modify code to recreate an already existing program, but I lack of knowledge in this area. I am not sure if the people who wrote bowman 1.5, bowman 2 and bowman "cheating" versions all contribited $10,000 for development. Pehaps I am not considering something.

    I want to reiterate that I am a teacher. Not a software developer.

    Here is the exact specifications I would like to see. This will be used to teach others math and ,if I can get the raw code as well, some programming.

    Requirement 1: the distance to your opponent, windspeed if >0 and wall height if > 0 would be displayed at the bottom of the screen.

    Requirement 2: Instead of using the mouse to input angle and velocity
    hitting the enter button will open a menu with to 2 boxes. One will be to input the angle the other will be to input velocity. clicking shoot in the corner of this box will fire the shot as usual.

    Optional requirement that would be nice: When the arrow hits the ground or an opponent. a box will appear with two options. One will be "continue with next player's turn."  and the other will be "shot summary" when "shot summary" is clicked will display  the time (seconds) the arrow was aloft and the distance the arrow traveled along the ground. (x-coordinate of the landed arrow relative to the shooter.) and the maximum height the arrow achieved. I have all the knowledge of the math behind trajectories and can provide the calculations necessary if you need them. at the bottom of the shot summary screen will be a "continue with next player's turn." box.

    The rest of the game is the same.
     The rest of the game can be the same. The computer player will not need any modifications.
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    Hello I am a little busy for some time, I replied just to tell you that I am still here and will help as soon as I can.

    If not, blue-genie should be able to help you.

    I have read what you said and because I'm a little busy, I will answer them as soon as I can too.

    Just a note, you need to seek the author of the game Bowman's permissions to modify their game, I can  rewrite their code but the problem here is if you are modifying Bowman's game, their graphics and everything belongs to them.

    Otherwise, you have to find a person to do the graphics for you, I can't, as I mentioned I will only do the code, and I am also unable to do the graphics (I'm not an artist, but I can't draw as well).
    LVL 39

    Expert Comment

    yeah i'm back at work today. no offense but doing it for you is obviously not a priority, but I'll try and do it because I can use it for my own little game library. nag now and again if you don't hear from us.
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    my suggestion would be to ask the author of the game and se if they will either make modifications or give you the source code.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    I have done a lot of searching for the author of bowman.

    I an unable to find the original author. There are literally thousands of flash games out there. I am not even sure if this is copyrighted or if copyright laws would apply because this modified game will not be sold, and will be for educational purposes only.

    These kids are given meaningless drill problems that have no application to their lives at all. Consequently they do not retain or learn the material on quadratics or any math, problem solving or self-evaulation. Some of the biggest problems our educational system faces in the inner city is the fact that students refuse to learn what they don't see as interesting and none of what they are given and we are required to teach is interesting.

    Anything you could do to help would be greatly appreciated.
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    i am willing to try this.  i will need help as i do not know these formulas. i can't give any promises and am not good at graphics but will do what i can.  contact me at  again no promises first i will see if i can handle this kind of job.
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    I'm here to help as well if anything is needed.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    The formulas that model the x and y movement are

    x=Vh * t
    y=H + Vv * t -0.5* G * t^2

    t= time in seconds
    x= how far an arrow is away from you along the ground in feet at a certian time
    y=How high the arrow is in the air in feet at a certain time

    A = The angle the arrow is fired at in degrees.
    Vp = Projectile Velicity in ft/sec (this is the arrow actual speed)
    Vh = Horizontal velocity is how fast an arrow is traveling in a
    forward direction It is calculated Vh = Vp * cos ( A)
    Vv = Vertical velocity is how fast an arrow is traveling in an upward
    direction It is calculated Vv = Vp * sin ( A)
    G is the accelleration of the arrow in feet per second squared so it
    is 32 feet per second squared)
     H = the original height the arrow was fired from.

    So if I threw a ball 30 degrees at 55 ft/sec Assume I let go of the
    ball 6 feet from the ground.
    H = 6 feet
    g= 32 feet / second squared
    A= 30 degrees
    Vp= 55 feet per second
    Vh= 55 * cos (30) = 47.6314 feet per second
    Vv= 55 * sin (30) = 27.5 feet per second

    so the equations are

    x=47.6314 * t
    y=6 + 27.5 * t - 0.5 * 32 * t^2   or y=6 + 27.5 * t - 16 * t^2
    LVL 5

    Accepted Solution

    i will write out code that will handle calculations. i can do this. i will send it via email and a post here. it will be in the form of both text and .vb attachment. i will start on this now.
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    here is what i have com up with i need help on the UI though.
    Public Class Class1
        Public Structure locations_per_sec
            Dim time As Integer
            Dim XLoc As Double
            Dim YLoc As Double
        End Structure
        Private a As Double
        Private Vp As Double
        Private Vh As Double
        Private Vv As Double
        Private H As Double
        Public Property angle() As Double
                Return a
            End Get
            Set(ByVal value As Double)
                a = value
            End Set
        End Property
        Public Property speed() As Double
                Return Vp
            End Get
            Set(ByVal value As Double)
                Vp = value
            End Set
        End Property
        Public Function location_times(Optional ByVal Height As Double = 5.0) As List(Of locations_per_sec)
            Dim z As New List(Of locations_per_sec)(0)
            Dim time As Integer = 0
            Dim XLoc As Double = 0
            Dim YLoc As Double = Height
            Dim sec As New locations_per_sec
            Vh = Vp * Math.Cos(angle)
            Vv = Vp * Math.Sin(angle)
            Do Until YLoc < 0
                time += 1
                XLoc = Vh * time
                YLoc = H + Vv * time - 0.5 * 32 * time ^ 2
                sec.time = time
                sec.XLoc = XLoc
                sec.YLoc = YLoc
            Return z
        End Function
    End Class

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    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    after testing i have found some errors in the code above. i have posted an article that includes this code that can be found here. sorry for any confusion.

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