Each Thursday afternoon, a group of Club kids becomes aerospace engineers charged with creating their own space program. They can build space traveling systems and experiment with different parts to determine how it would affect the overall success of the machine. It’s all done through simulation in an application called Kerbal Space Program.
“Children can learn the physics and engineering behind various space ships, planes, rovers and other space assets,” said Josh M., Kerbal Space Program leader, Paradise Valley Club. “The simulation provides a solar system, a functioning space agency with various engineering and research departments, a full staff of astronauts and hundreds of parts and equipment to construct any craft imaginable.”
The kids work together to construct the plane or space vehicle. It takes trial and error, understanding of aerodynamics and aeronautics, and flexibility. Through experimentation, participants have discovered that bigger is not always better and that efficiency can come from simplifying complex systems. The simulation can also indirectly teach children how to plan and manage stress in a dangerous situation.
“I’ve found that the kids get creative and utilize unorthodox methods to complete problems and unbeknownst to them, they follow innovative ideas from history and learn from the same pitfalls that those in real history had to overcome,” said Josh.
Once the space vehicle is built, the aerospace engineers put on their pilot hats and can take it out for a test run in a flight simulation. They can determine what changes or modifications they need to make for better operation.