Squishy physics playground for a middle-schooler?
August 2, 2022 7:28 AM   Subscribe

My nephew has dabbled in Scratch and is intrigued by the idea of computers simulating jello-like physics. Is there a website or app that will let him play around with interesting physics properties of simulated objects bumping into each other and doing funny stuff?

I've got Unity but it may be slightly more hardcore than the ideal situation. Maybe something with minimal code, if any, and maybe some sliders to move around? Some ThreeJS kind of demo?
posted by johngoren to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The keyword here is "soft body physics" — here is a demo in a JS physics library that I've used before. You can probably also view-source on this and edit things, although I haven't looked at the code much.

Here is an article by Mick West (who programmed the Tony Hawk games and now runs a excellent UFO/etc debunking forum and Youtube channel) explaining some of the logic behind how this works.

I enjoyed using the LÖVE game engine around that age — here is a library that does soft body physics in that (again, no idea if it's good or not, just what I found with a search).
posted by wesleyac at 7:46 AM on August 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

I remember an interactive site where you could fling a crash test dummy down stairs and assess damage.

I have a couple fluid physics apps on my old android phone, really fun for little kids. You child might enjoy them; they have genuine scientific merit, but, also, ooohh, cool.

I suspect more poking around with terms like blob jello physics simulation would be productive and fun.
physics sandbox
Magic kick
physics engine
posted by theora55 at 10:19 AM on August 2, 2022

Find your perfect sports bra

(yes, tongue firmly in cheek - I'm surprised the website is still up, I ran into it in 2007 and it was received with amusement)

(DARN, the bounceometer on that site is no more)
posted by porpoise at 5:22 PM on August 2, 2022

iOS apps: Stair Dismount is about pushing humans off of towers and other large structures. It shows them hitting branches or beams on their way down and their bodies reacting. Points are based on how many broken bones the human gets. It cracks me up to no end (you can personalize the human's face with a photo) - a middle-schooler would love it but it's up to you to decide if you want them to see it.
posted by bendy at 6:27 PM on August 2, 2022

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