This simulation lets students launch a spacecraft from Earth to our planetary neighbor, Mars. Players will primarily learn about the timing of space flight, rather than other aspects such as thrust. In short, they will have to determine the correct “launch window” so that their craft will intersect Mars’ orbit at the right time. Students will come away with a basic sense of orbital mechanics and an understanding of why a trip to another planet would not simply involve flying in a straight line.
In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the effects of force, gravity, revolution and rotation. Students will identify the environmental and circumstantial considerations of NASA scientists prior to launching spacecraft, and use a game-based simulation to determine when and how to launch a spacecraft into Mars. This lesson plan is aligned to Common Core State Standards. See more »