• Funded by: National Academy of Sciences/Iridescent/Office of Naval Research
  • Focus: Aerodynamics
  • Project type: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch


Full-Game Planned for Early Summer 2014 Release
Current Download is a Prototype Simulation

Players can control a soaring albatross and learn how various aerodynamic principles are applied to achieve flight in Aero, a forces and motion learning game for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Spread your wings and soar over the surface of the sparkling blue sea as you master the concept of flight! Players have full control over the amount of flapping and range of wing rotation while completing a series of fun, skill-based challenges. Navigate over the ocean waves and perform specific maneuvers, while applying an understanding of lift, drag, trust, wind, and the aerodynamic forces of the atmosphere. Explore a vast open world and uncover cool, hidden gems such as delicious fish meals and gear for your fine feathered friend. Accumulate flight rewards and win new songs for the albatross to sing as you learn and demonstrate each concept!

Development History

  • We built a prototype iPhone/iPad version of Aero, thanks to a partnership with Iridescent Learning and seed funding from the National Academy of Sciences and the Office of Naval Research. Our basic simulation of the concept, has reached nearly 100,000 downloads.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy volunteered his time to address several essential concepts for the Albatross flight. We then spent six months building a full and accurate simulation of bird flight with a visualization of force vectors around the bird.
  • Last year, we launched a simulation of the game, in which we placed two Wii remotes inside of flappable wings to create the experience of flying.
  • We took Aero on the road and tested it out at Maker Faire, the USA Engineering Festival, and various schools throughout the year. The overwhelmingly positive response from students, parents, and teachers made it clear to us that we had to take Aero to the next level.

Watch Our Aero Road Show

Main Features of Upcoming Launch

  • FULL EXPLORATORY WORLD with multiple islands and caves to explore. Land on, take-off from, and explore every island.
  • 15+ CHALLENGES: Flight-based and aerodynamic-learning challenge rings.
  • AERODYNAMIC FLIGHT LESSONS: Five fully developed interactive aerodynamic lessons teaching lift, drag, thrust, constant and terminal velocity, gravity, banking, turning and more.
  • CUSTOMIZE YOUR AVATAR: Unlock hidden chests and collect cool, new gear for your albatross!


Extended List of New Features

An air molecule viewer:

For players to understand the relationship of air particles around the wing and how this relationship informs the bird’s direction.


In-Depth “Physics of Flight” Lessons:

Aero includes five educational lesson levels that teach aerodynamic principles in detail. Lessons will teach lift, drag, thrust, constant and terminal velocity, gravity, banking, turning, and more.


Aeronautical challenges: Destination and landing challenges, island destination courses and completing safe landings.
Exciting Ring challenges: Rollercoaster rings and obstacle courses, racing against the computer, treasure hunts collecting a number of objects around the game environment, timed races around different trials, learning to fly from different perspectives.

Bank, Turning and Lift challenges: Bank side to side around ocean buoys to complete an obstacle course.


Forces of Motion Challenges

Vector Challenges: Players are tasked with correctly naming and using the correct forces to fly in the right direction.

Molecular Challenges: Players will have to create the correct molecular collisions to control their flight.

Constant Velocity: Players have to achieve a constant velocity for a certain amount of time. Can the player find all three methods to do so?

Vertical Equilibrium: Players must equalize the lift and gravity vectors to achieve vertical equilibrium. This reinforces earlier learning points.

Gravity Challenge: Players are challenged to rotate the gravity force vector around the bird in various directions, reinforcing gravities pull toward the center of the earth.


Nature Challenges

Fish Diving: Search and dive for fish.

Drinking and de-salination/Albatross can drink from the ocean! Drink ocean water to survive and watch as you shoot the salt out of your nose!

Fly into cumulus clouds: Cumulus clouds are from an upward convection of air. Fly into them to reach hidden collectable stars.

Hover challenge: Learn about how air rises against cliff-sides as the Albatross plays and flies in place.
Bird Watcher Mode: Fly the bird from the perspective of the Bird Watcher.



Game Learning Objectives

  • Wings generate force by deflecting air. The more the deflection, the more the force.
  • For a given volume of air deflected, you can increase the force by increasing the angle of deflection.
  • For a given angle of air deflected, you can increase the force by increasing the volume of air deflected by increasing the size of the wing.
  • The angles are represented by the “angle of attack”: the angle between where the wing is pointed and where it is going.
  • The force can be broken into two pieces: lift (perpendicular to the oncoming air), and drag (along the direction of the oncoming air).
  • When you create lift, you can’t avoid creating drag. For a given amount of lift, you can create less drag by deflecting a large volume of air by a small angle, while deflecting a small volume by a large angle creates an increased amount of drag. This is called lift-induced drag.
  • In order to turn, you need a sideways force. The albatross makes a sideways force by banking, thus generating some of its lift sideways.