About Land a rocket on a planet

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The 'Land a rocket on a planet' is a game, but with serious ideas beind it.

First, it is a simulation (if a very simple one). Flight simulators are used to train pilots. It is a lot easier and safer for pilots to 'crash' a plane by mistake on a simulator than in real life, and it means that all sorts of extreme conditions can be used in their training. So when they meet a real storm or fog for the first time, they know what to do.

However, this game has another purpose (since the openings for human pilots to land on the other planets of our solar system are limited!) In this game, you are dealing with acceleration rather than speed. Children find these concepts hard to disentangle - how you can have a negetive acceleration, but a positive speed, for example. The game requires you to get the rocket to a certain point, the surface of the planet, which is to do with distance, at a low enough speed. But to do this, you have only one control - the thrust or acceleration upward, which must be used to balance the pull of gravity downwards. Children pick up the control quite easily, and while they may not realise what they are doing, a teacher can use the game to demonstrate the difference between acceleration, velocity (or speed) and distance. Perhaps you could also think about the nature of the force, gravity.

The game also allows you to choose a planet, and the relative gravities of the planets are correct. This gives you a quick feel for what those gravities are and makes you realise the differences between them. Your reactions for landing on the Moon won't work on Earth!

It's also a fun game. This type of game is one of the very early computer games (in universities rather than in the real world) but it can still be a challenge.

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