A few months ago I wrote an article about how video games were starting to find their way into the education system, with a less than subtle nudge from organisations like Teacher Gaming, makers of MinecraftEDU.
Well, the guys at Teacher Gaming have done it again! This time they have turned their hand to the popular space simulation game Kerbal Space Program, with the arrival of a Mod for the game known as KerbalEDU!
Although still in the very early development stages, the KerbalEDU modification shows a lot of promise for teachers. Using the, already very educational, Kerbal Space Program game as a base, their EDU Mod adds some interesting features that could help teachers make Physics, Maths and even Orbital Mechanics and Rocket Science, enjoyable and engaging for their students. The mod adds a lot of numbers and statistics, as well as a graph based flight recorder that teachers could use to show, for example, the effects of acceleration on potential kinetic energy, how thrust to weight ratios affect acceleration, how acceleration is affected by mass, drag and gravity… there are many possible applications.
Less Talk, More Pictures
Rather than have me ramble on about the mod (which I clearly love and could talk for hours about), I thought I’d put together a review video for my gaming channel on YouTube that you could see the mod (and the game) in action instead. I hope you enjoy it, and that it does the game and this EDU mod justice.
What Can KerbalEDU Offer?
On top of the, already very educational, elements of the core Kerbal Space Program game, KerbalEDU adds the following:
- Rocket building guide to help you put together a rocket/space-plane you can launch safely
- Detailed breakdown of pre-flight calculations for your rocket/space-plane including Delta-V, thrust-to-weight ratios and mass vs dry mass
- Graphical indication of forces experienced during space and aircraft flights and rocket launches
- Detailed flight recording with live graphs covering all the important facts and figures you could need
- Export graphs in spreadsheet or image format for consideration, comparison or contrast in class, or as a homework assignment
And that’s not all, according to the KerbalEDU website, the planned features also include:
- Pre-made lessons that circle around special constructions like ‘make this airplane better’
- Robust pedagogy that includes materials and ideas outside, but linked to, the game
- Metric conversions for easier data comparison
- Improved UI for easier data gathering
If you can see the value and potential of using KerbalEDU in your school, you can register to gain access to the prototype on the KerbalEDU site at http://www.kerbaledu.com/. On release the Mod will be made available SOLELY to educational organisations, and this could be your chance to shape the way the mod evolves so that it will have even more value to you and your students in the future.
Of course, the concept of using video games in an educational setting is still very much a controversial topic. I’m eager to hear your comments about weather or not you feel that video games have a place in schools, and whether or not you feel that the likes of MinecraftEDU and KerbalEDU will serve as a distraction to students, or as a valuable educational tool that can help engage students and get them excited about, what could otherwise be, some very dry subjects. Comment below!