I would like an educational tool to allow a child to 'drag and drop' or 'add' a planet to a workspace, adjust the x, y and z velocities as well as the size and mass.

OF the numerous simulators I have looked at, the complexity is daunting and the cognitive load may be too great for an average middle schooler.

I read this post

Can Kerbal Space Program act as a suitable simulator with the right mods?

and the suggestions are nice but quite complex.

I read this post

Game for teaching basics of orbital mechanics

but even these suggestions are beyond the simple ideas I would like to present in a simple talk that cannot exceed 1 class.(45 minutes)

Osmos is close but I need something that shows numbers (velocities, masses, acceleration)

Something like Kerbal would be nice but even simpler. Say I want to put a couple of bowling balls in space and adjust their mass and velocities so they orbit. Or perhaps put them in space and examine elastic collisions.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you searching for a free tool or are you willing to pay? The reason that I am asking is that I think a 2D variant could be rather easy to program and thus cheap to commission. $\endgroup$ – lijat Jun 30 '20 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ You could ask the computer science department at some university for a colabotation. Creating things like this is the type of things students do for practice. At least where I was studying (Umeå University - Sweden) $\endgroup$ – lijat Jun 30 '20 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Are you aware of the "3-body problem" ? Any system you set up with 3 or more bodies of reasonably comparable mass will be chaotic & unrepeatable. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 1 '20 at 10:42

Universe Sandbox is probably what you want. Great tool, drag and drop, add in objects where you desire, etc. Orbits all figured in. There's a ton of stuff you can do with it, I've used it in a few videos to explain supernovas and stuff like that, but it works well for orbital mechanics too.

  • $\begingroup$ pretty good but too much distraction with pretty pictures - but maybe that's a plus $\endgroup$ – aquagremlin Jun 30 '20 at 21:35

Have you tried Space Engine? It might be complex as well but I think this could work.


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