Lesson 2 (last week)
WOW! It is just amazing to watch what students can come up with the more comfortable they get with the mechanics of the game. I started todays lesson by telling students to load a pre-made craft and have a fly. Many students picked a craft, had a fly, looked at the parts and went back to try to create their own. Today we had some successful flights, and many unsuccessful ones too.
Many students are putting wings on their craft, but no control surfaces, so they have no way to get lift and the ability to move. This is going to make a very good discussion when we start our debrief and talk about forces, their effect and how we can manipulate them.
I also learnt that many of the jet engines, after reading through and talking to some of the students, require one or more air intake parts. So now I could, in theory, create a space plane of my own. I am really enjoying learning alongside the students, not being an expert, but exploring and sometimes advising them with a bit of knowledge.
Lesson 3 (today)
A week later we got to have our third lesson in Kerbal. I started by readjusting the goals I had set for students, and also gave them a bit of an introduction to the control surfaces available to them. I am impressed, more and more students are managing to get airborne. They still struggle to land properly, but they are getting off the ground at least. Soon the time in Kerbal itself will end and we will have to pull it all together. I am interested to see what the students reflections are in terms of forces, and what learning outcomes they believe they achieved while playing the game.
I am thinking one, maybe 2 more lessons in Kerbal is all I have time for. I still have another topic I need to cover this year and the time is slowly slipping away from me. Putting what we did in Kerbal alongside the bottle rockets students created and let fly I am hoping for a pretty solid understanding of forces in the 'real' world and how we can manipulate these forces. I know one student today learnt how to make things spin as they fly, completely by accident, and an unwanted side effect of the control surface placement, but what an 'aha' moment for that student.