4 Lesson Plans Using UNIVERSE SANDBOX
Universe Sandbox is a powerful and realistic interactive space and gravity simulator. Players can witness scale space simulations of our solar system and galaxy, but they can also see what happens when they manipulate the properties of planets and stars (e.g. mass) or add new bodies in space. The value of Universe Sandbox is its openness, overall accuracy, and impressive visual graphics as it invites players to explore, tinker, and discover their universe in an immersive experience.
Through playing, users gain a better understanding of how properties of matter, such as mass, affect objects in space. For example, they can make the mass of the Earth equal to that of the Sun and see how it changes the orbital pattern of Venus.
For students, Universe Sandbox works best with facilitation from a teacher who is knowledgeable on stars, solar systems, and gravitational force. By asking guiding questions as students manipulate properties and run through simulations, teachers can assist students in understanding the complex forces that control our universe.
Universe Sandbox Breakdown
While Universe Sandbox is listed at the price of $19.95, it is free with a Steam for Schools account. Please visit the official website for more information on how to apply for Steam for Schools.
When players first open the game, there is an introductory tutorial on the right side of the screen.
Players can choose existing space simulations, explore “Fun Things To Do” for a tutorial of Universe Sandbox’s interface, or create a new simulation. When choosing to create a new simulation, players also view simulations that feature other user-generated simulations.
Once users load a simulation, they can click on various objects on the screen to view their profiles. For example, when uploading a simulation of our solar system, they can click on Earth and see its diameter, mass, and other information.
Below is a video that provides a more in-depth tutorial of Universe Sandbox's interface and runs through some of the simulations, starting at approximately the one-minute mark. The active community forum also provides additional assistance and updates from the creators of the program, as well as from astronomy educators, professionals, and aficionados.