Dan Gallagher takes a look at Truss Me!, an iOS app which is taking the educational market by storm.
Truss Me! is an iOS app which is taking the educational market by storm. It fits into the ideology of Gamification; using an engaging method to solve problems.
This app offers two modes to users: freestyle & challenges. In freestyle mode, you can build structures to support weights while in challenge mode you try to earn nuts (get it, like nuts and bolts). The higher the score the more nuts you earn (0-3). Your score is determined by two factors: the weight of your structure and the amount of movement the object makes when released.
When you first open the app to the main screen you have three options before you: Freestyle, Challenges, and Help. I would recommend going through the help tutorial. It will introduce you to the various aspects of the app; joints, pins, bars, and weights.
You are shown the layout of the screen where you will find the information needed to succeed; score, nuts, and weight of your structure. This walkthrough will set you up to start building your own trusses.
Where the Supports are Strongest
Truss Me! offers a highly sophisticated simulation where your supports are shown to be red or under tension and blue or under compression. I haven’t seen another app which provides clear, visual feedback on where a structure is stressed. If the weight of the object is too much then your supports will bend and your structure will collapse.
Where the App Starts to Buckle
The tutorial walks you through all the buttons/options you have but what I feel is missing is an example problem with a low scoring solution followed by a high scoring solution so the user can understand how to earn the most amount of nuts. During the challenge mode, each level is locked until a solution has been discovered to the level prior. Once you struggle to find a solution, I feel, students will allow their frustration to overcome their engagement and they will quit the app.
Building Connections in the Classroom
For the physics teachers of the world, they will love this app! It is very vocabulary rich in the help section. I saw on the app developers site, teacher materials will be forth coming. My hope (hint, hint) is that one day the app will allow a teacher to push out a scenario to the students with a low level solution which they can simulate better solutions. This will then lead to discussions on the kinds of forces which affect structures.
Truss Me!’s state of the art, realistic structural behavior algorithm is well worth the $1.99 from the app store to bring physics and gaming onto your device. I look forward to seeing more apps from Scientific Monkey LLC in the app store.