When teaching velocity and acceleration, you can use this fun simulation called the Lunar Lander, where players attempt to make a soft landing on the flat zones of the Moon.
They can alter the lander’s motion by providing an upward thrust produced by the lander’s engine — to counter the acceleration due to gravity — so that the velocity wouldn’t be too large (not more than 2 meters per second).
Here is a video I created to introduce the game:
There are important things to note about the simulation:
- The acceleration due to gravity of the Moon is less than that of the Earth (about 1/6) so the velocity of falling bodies on the Moon would not increase in the same manner as it would on Earth;
- The Moon has no atmosphere so drag (air resistance) wouldn’t be a problem
- You are not supposed to hear any sound once you are on the Moon as sound cannot travel through space; sound requires a medium (air) to travel
- The lunar lander is only in free falling motion once the engine is turned off or the acceleration due to the force exerted by the engine’s exhaust is zero
- Students must turn on the vectors so that they will be able to see how the acceleration and velocity change as they toggle the thrust