Slam Ball Directions

Object: To slam the ball off the sides of the game board and send it on a path that collects the most tokens.

Set-Up: The game board is a diagonal grid with tokens appearing at intersections of the diagonal lines. Points are earned each time the ball hits a token.

Play: Both players will launch six balls during the game. Each ball can be angled up or down before being launched, and the movable wall can be repositioned to affect the path of the ball.

When a ball is launched, it rolls and reflects off the walls until it lands in a hole or runs out of energy. The yellow energy pellets along the top and bottom walls provide energy to the ball as it rolls. As the ball passes over a token, points are collected, and the value of the token increases from 50 to 100, to 150, and finally to 250. If the ball rolls over a token worth 250 points, the token is removed, and a new token worth 50 points is placed randomly on the board.

Winning the Game: The game ends when both players have taken six shots. The winner is the player with the most points.

Math Concepts: Symmetry, Reflection, Angles, Patterns

What You Can Do: Symmetry occurs in natural environments, such as the bilateral symmetry of the human body or the rotational symmetry of a starfish, and it can also be explored in many human creations, such as the arrangement of tiles on a floor, the blades of a fan, the pattern of a tapestry, or even the drawing of a five-point star by your child.

One fun activity to do with young students is to investigate the symmetry of the letters of the alphabet. The letter A has vertical symmetry, the letter D has horizontal symmetry, the letter N has rotational symmetry, and the letter X has all three types of symmetry. The words NOON and OBOE naturally exhibit symmetry — NOON can be rotated 180° and it will look the same, and OBOE reads the same when reflected over a horizontal axis.

Artists like Scott Kim and John Langdon use some of these symmetric properties of letters to create inversions, words or names that can be read in more than one way. Your child might enjoy learning more about these artists or trying to write their own name so that it reads in more than one way.

Math in the Game: Students with an aggressive trigger finger like to shoot quickly. But encourage them to take some time to think about the path of the ball. Students may quickly choose a path that will hit a 250-point token, but that may not be the best shot if the ball slams off a wall and immediately disappears into a hole. Maybe there’s another path that would hit three 100-point tokens? That would be a better shot.

Students should consider the location of the wall. The dimensions of the board are very important to the path that the ball takes. Changing the location of the wall just one click will sometimes alter the path of the ball so that it hits multiple tokens instead of just one.

Related Resources:

Paper Pool Lessons
In the game of Paper Pool, students investigate the results of rolling a ball around pool tables of various sizes. As in Slam Ball, the ball caroms at a 45° angle and stops when it reaches a pocket.

Paper Pool Tool
This applet allows students to investigate the Paper Pool game.