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Heads Up, Space Fans! Angry Birds Roosting At NASA

By MARCIA DUNN

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) â¿¿ Angry Birds have a new space coop.

At NASA's invitation, the online game birds are roosting at Kennedy Space Center for the next 1½ years in an effort to lure youngsters to the cosmic wonders of math and science.

The huge interactive exhibit opened March 22 and immediately packed in the kids, including this reporter's 7-year-old son who couldn't get enough of the mirrored maze and the design-your-own Angry Bird and play-the-game stations.

It's called Angry Birds Space Encounter and is the first of its kind.

Astronaut Donald Pettit, a chemical engineer and father of 12-year-old twin boys, announced the collaboration between NASA and Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment Ltd. a year ago while living aboard the International Space Station. He squeezed in as much physics as he could in the YouTube announcement.

"Wow, this could be a great venue for getting some physics and getting some math and getting some science into something that has the connotation as just an empty brain-draining video game that sucks out the creativity from the minds of young people," Pettit told The Associated Press at the grand opening.

"And so I thought, well, maybe I could help make a difference on this and bring the idea of a game up to a different level, where unbeknownst to the kids playing it, they're learning a little bit of math and physics at the same time."

Enter the concepts of parabolic trajectories, hyperbolic trajectories, elliptical trajectories and even Holman transfer orbits, "which is what we do with spacecraft going from Planet A to Planet B."

"There's all this stuff latent in this game, particularly if you tend to be a geek, or an uber-geek or what I'm actually calling now a super-uber-geek," Pettit said. "All of this stuff can be mined out of this game and it can be used as an excuse to learn more. If you're not in any of those categories as a kid, you can still play the game and be entertained."

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