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Exploring Space on the ComputerFor the past year Dennis Stocker has been in the process of developing pencil and paper games, which are fun, challenging, and educational for middle school and high school students. The latest version of these pencil and paper games is Spaceship Commander. The objective of the game is to earn points by plotting the flight path of a spaceship so astronauts can perform microgravity experiments, and make short-range measurements of other planets. During my ten weeks here at the GRC my goal is to create a computer based version of Spaceship commander. During the development of this game the primary focus has been on making it as educational and fun for the student as possible. The main educational objective of this game is to give students an understanding of forces and motion, including gravity. This is done by incorporating Newton's laws into the game. For example a spacecraft in the video game experiences a gravitational force applied to it by planets. The software I am using to create this game is a freeware application called Game Maker. Game Maker allows novice computer programmers like me to create arcade style games using a visual drag and drop interface. By using functions provided by Game Maker and a few I have written myself, I have been able to create a few simple computer games. Currently the computer game allows the student to navigate a space ship around planets, and asteroids by using the arrow keys on the numeric keypad. Each time an arrow key is pressed by the student the corresponding acceleration of the space ship is seen on the screen. Points are earned by navigating the space ship close enough to planets to gather scientific data. However the game encourages the student to plan his or her course carefully, because if the student gets too close to a planet they may not be able to escape the planet s gravity, and crash into the planet. The next step in the game development is to include a launch sequence which allows the student to launch from their home planet at a speed and direction determined by the student. Additional information is included in the original extended abstract.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Bozym, Patrick
(Illinois Univ. IL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium I
Subject Category
Computer Programming And Software
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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