Categories : Lesson Plan of the Week
Take it from us: Universe Sandbox ² is the best astrophysical sandbox simulation game in existence. It is the perfect way to make abstract concepts tangible: rather than just read about celestial movement, why not see it with your own eyes? The game is the optimal accompaniment to any lesson where space is concerned.
Read on for a run-through of one of our lessons for the game, which makes gravity come to life on a stellar scale!
Playing the Game
Universe Sandbox ² is not a conventional game - it’s a simulator. What this means in practice is that there is no story, no progression and no hand-holding.
The game lets you instantly load up real star systems, galaxies and astrophysical events, then click on those celestial objects to learn what they consist of, whether they can support life, how quickly they are moving through space and much more. Amazingly, you can also change these values and see how the simulation changes accordingly. What would happen on Earth if the average temperature was 10 degrees warmer?
All of the options are available to you right from the beginning, which means that no matter which astrophysical concept you are teaching, Universe Sandbox ² is a great addition to the lesson.
Want to teach students about Roche limits? Load up a simulation where Earth has two moons. One moon is within the Roche limit, causing it to be ripped to shreds. The other one is outside it, allowing the moon to maintain orbit indefinitely. Similar great examples are available for many difficult concepts, such as pulsars, supernovas and black holes.
Gravity & Orbits
This lesson takes a closer look at gravity and how it works both on a personal and planetary level. Why can certain bodies orbit others in space? What would happen if you placed a teapot within Earth’s gravity? How are Newton’s three laws related to gravity? This lesson allows students to experiment, adding many objects to our Solar System, such as dwarf planets, gas giants and rings to existing planets.
Universe Sandbox ² and Your Classroom
The simulator is well-suited to any classroom. Whether you are only beginning to explore the vast reaches of space or delving into advanced concepts, students of all ages benefit from the impressive visuals and concrete examples that Universe Sandbox ² can provide. Other lessons in the series take a look at related concepts, such as celestial collisions, exoplanets, the birth of the universe and much more.