NASA provides several really neat “learning games” that you may freely download to your own computer and use in your homeschool studies. Included in these games are:
Foil Sim: FoilSim II computes the theoretical lift of a variety of airfoil shapes. The user can control the shape, size, and inclination of the airfoil and the atmospheric conditions in which the airfoil is flying. The program includes a stall model for the airfoil, a model of the Martian atmosphere, and the ability to specify a variety of fluids for lift comparisons. The program has graphical and numerical output, including an interactive probe which you can use to investigate the details of flow around an airfoil.
CurveBall: Using the CurveBall applet, students learn more about aerodynamics by controlling the conditions of a big league baseball pitch. You can vary the speed of the pitch, the spin on the ball, the release point, and the location of the stadium which affects the atmospheric conditions and the amount of curve on the ball. The program will compute balls and strikes and tells you how far your pitch passes the center of the plate .
RocketModeler: This program lets you design and study the flight of a model rocket. You can vary the size of the rocket, the number of fins, and the materials used to construct the rocket. You can choose from a variety of available model rocket engines and test fly your rocket on the computer. The program computes the stability of your design and the flight trajectory. Output includes the maximum altitude which the rocket achieves. You can then compare the computed and actual performance of your model rocket.
KiteModeler: This program lets you design and study the flight of a kite. You can select from five different types of kites and then vary the length, width and types of materials used to construct the kite. You then trim the kite by setting the length of the bridle and tail and the position of the knot attaching the control line to the bridle. Finally, you test fly your kite on the computer by setting the wind speed and the length of control line. The program computes the aerodynamic forces, weight, and stability of your design and the shape of the control line as it sags under its own weight. Output includes the maximum altitude which the kite achieves. You can then compare the computed and actual performance of your kite design.
Atmosphere Applet: This program lets you study how pressure, temperature, and density change through the atmosphere. You can study the atmosphere of the Earth or of Mars. Since speed of sound depends on the atmospheric gas and the temperature, you can also output the local speed of sound and the Mach number for a selected aircraft velocity. You can either input a selected altitude, or change altitude using an aircraft slider.
The site offers several other interactive games as well, all with teacher guides & review lessons. Great technical science fun!
Click here to go to their download page.