# Feedback from the high school teacher who tried KSP

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Hi guys

I'm a math teacher and I tried to use KSP in my grade 9 geometry class to help students grasp the idea of orbits, ellipses and such.

At first it was really going well and they enioyed the alternative learning, but here's where I came to a halt with this game:

1 - most of them found it way too hard to come to grips with. A lot of them couldn't see the connection between the geometric and mathematical concepts and the game. They constantly asked for help and although they did grasp the idea of ellipse and orbit, they still had trouble understanding what was going on in the game.

Kerbal EDU suggestion: break down the game into easy to comprehend steps with maybe quests or goals that would teach new players the game principles that are essential to understand. I found that most of the students, even the gamers, had trouble with this game and in the end felt defeated by its difficulty.

2 - go beyond the vectors and forces and introduce wiki like description of variouns concepts used in the game with specific book like explanations to help students grasp the concepts better. Even though a lot of my students did eventually get to space, they had no conceptual understanding of what was going on as there were no descriptions or explanations in the game. They launched something into something, that's how they saw it. It would be great if there was some sort of clear explanation available for each and every mathematical/physical/scientific concept involved (not just the vectors and graphs that the current mod provides).

3 - you need more gaming teachers to help you. recruit people to assist you develop this as it's a huge mod to develop and you can't do it by yourself

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Solutions to each of your problems:

Problem 1: It's very hard to get used to within a short period of time. Most if not everyone here had to get help to learn how to do something.

Problem 2: There IS a wiki page that goes into depth on how to do things, wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Main_Page

Problem 3: Who said anything about this being created by one person? We have a large amount of developers, and a QA team to help make sure everything goes to plan. Besides, what exactly do we need "more gaming teachers" for? This is also a standalone game and not a mod.

Again, if you need further help, feel free to explore our wiki Click Here

Good luck!

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Solutions to each of your problems:

Problem 1: It's very hard to get used to within a short period of time. Most if not everyone here had to get help to learn how to do something.

Problem 2: There IS a wiki page that goes into depth on how to do things, wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Main_Page

Problem 3: Who said anything about this being created by one person? We have a large amount of developers, and a QA team to help make sure everything goes to plan. Besides, what exactly do we need "more gaming teachers" for? This is also a standalone game and not a mod.

Again, if you need further help, feel free to explore our wiki Click Here

Good luck!

Unless you work for KerbalEdu, what you said was completely invalid. He's trying to help the guys, not hurt them.*Let me show you:

*An overwhelming majority of the community doesn't seem to understand this fact when it comes to criticism.

Problem 1: It's very hard to get used to within a short period of time. Most if not everyone here had to get help to learn how to do something.

He wants something that helps his students visualize what's happening in the game, not how to play the game. Ex: show them how the orbits are actually being computed. (that's what you mean OP, right?)

Problem 2: There IS a wiki page that goes into depth on how to do things, wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Main_Page

He's asking for an in-game explanation of the actual science behind the game, which the wiki doesn't even cover well, let alone the fact that it isn't ingame.

Problem 3: Who said anything about this being created by one person? We have a large amount of developers, and a QA team to help make sure everything goes to plan. Besides, what exactly do we need "more gaming teachers" for? This is also a standalone game and not a mod.

He believes that KerbalEdu will be even better if the devs receive input from teachers. Also, why are you using "we"? I don't really think you work for KerbalEdu.

Edited by mythbusters844

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He's asking for input from teachers to help develop KerbalEdu. Also, why are you using "we"? I don't really think you work for KerbalEdu.

I meant "we" as in the community and developers, sorry about that. Didn't mean to upset anyone

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Hi guys

I'm a math teacher and I tried to use KSP in my grade 9 geometry class to help students grasp the idea of orbits, ellipses and such.

At first it was really going well and they enioyed the alternative learning, but here's where I came to a halt with this game:

1 - most of them found it way too hard to come to grips with. A lot of them couldn't see the connection between the geometric and mathematical concepts and the game. They constantly asked for help and although they did grasp the idea of ellipse and orbit, they still had trouble understanding what was going on in the game.

Kerbal EDU suggestion: break down the game into easy to comprehend steps with maybe quests or goals that would teach new players the game principles that are essential to understand. I found that most of the students, even the gamers, had trouble with this game and in the end felt defeated by its difficulty.

2 - go beyond the vectors and forces and introduce wiki like description of variouns concepts used in the game with specific book like explanations to help students grasp the concepts better. Even though a lot of my students did eventually get to space, they had no conceptual understanding of what was going on as there were no descriptions or explanations in the game. They launched something into something, that's how they saw it. It would be great if there was some sort of clear explanation available for each and every mathematical/physical/scientific concept involved (not just the vectors and graphs that the current mod provides).

3 - you need more gaming teachers to help you. recruit people to assist you develop this as it's a huge mod to develop and you can't do it by yourself

While this might not solve the issues with the game, I have a few suggestions that may assist in getting more out of the obstacles you have encountered.

1. Indeed the concepts are hard. Just like in rocketry's history, failure ruled the day and was an integral part of the process of discovery. I don't know which concepts they struggled with, but I think there may be an opportunity to explore math in more detail and in a real world way by staring at the difficulty head on. Many math concepts are very hard to convey, and real world examples help a lot in teaching those concepts. So use the failures and sticking points as "teachable moments" where the concepts you are trying to convey can be "discovered" while grappling with what they "did not get". I'm saying encourage "critical thinking" here to give them an opportunity to discover the concepts thru working out the problems...

2. Math is the language of physics, so present the physics they are encountering, and help with the math used to get there. I am proposing that you yourself provide some of what is missing in the game's breakdown. Play a few times yourself, maybe create a few specific vessels and "scenarios" that can demonstrate through failure the specific concepts you are trying to teach. Basically, create the environment for them in advance so you spend less time with the "helping" and more time on the concepts...

3. If you do some of the things I've suggested here, you may be able to help make Kerbal EDU better by providing examples to the makers of what is missing.

Finally, I appreciate your feedback, as I'm looking into creating a summer program at a local science Center and was looking at using Kerbal EDU as a platform for teaching some of the physics concepts... Sounds like I'll need to spend some time creating some additional material to include in my classes to "bridge the gap".

Edited by Papa_Joe

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Disclaimer: I am not currently an educator, nor am I employed by TeacherGaming, nor have access to KSP Edu. I'm just a fanboy who wants the project to succeed.

Precisely because KSP is such a huge game utilizing so many scientific and engineering concepts, and because in-class time is so scarce, I think to use KSP successfully in the classroom you have to go into it with some limited, well-defined, concrete learning objectives.

It probably helps too if you implement those objectives as discrete lessons, and create missions ahead of time which the students can load up at the start of class. For instance, take a look at some of the original missions created by the KSP Edu team: http://teachergaming.com/kerbalmissionlibrary

Frankly I'm puzzled by the fact that there aren't more missions in the KSP Edu mission library by now because the idea of shareable missions seemed like such a genius idea to me back when KSP Edu was first created. This is probably one area where the KSP Edu team could reach out to more current teacher-gamers to crowdsource missions which can serve as self-contained lessons. I'm sure many KSP veteran gamers would love to help out teachers in developing missions for their lesson plans as well.

But that would require getting the KSP Edu mod into the hands of more than just the three dozen or so people who helped out during development. You're quite right too that documentation is important. There really needs to be the KSP equivalent of Bruce Irving's Go Play In Space. Ideally this is something the KSP Edu team should be working on.

I don't want to sound critical of KSP Edu, or the team developing it. It's such a small team, and they've accomplished so much. After all, there's pretty much only one developer left from what I understand, plus KSP has greatly changed with each of the past few releases. I mean, Squad essentially entirely rewrote the laws of the KSP universe's physics for 1.0, and they're still tuning the aero- and thermodynamics. So I'm not even sure it made any sense for KSP Edu to devote time to developing lessons and missions and documentation until now. Additionally, I do think they're headed in the right direction. For instance, see the most recent blog post about the Earth History Campaign which is an entirely new game mode.

In short, I still think KSP has tremendous educational potential, but the Edu version really needs more attention than just the core team can give to it. On the other hand, they're trying to make money off the project, so I can see why they're trying to keep expenses low.

Edited by lincourtl

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You might just need to have a bit more structure in the lesson plan. It sounds like you're just turning the kids loose in KSP. Start with a basic primer on things like the rocket equation and orbits, instead of letting the kids work it out themselves in KSP, let KSP reinforce the lessons. Maybe take them through the tutorial missions, those explain the physics a little better then just sandbox.

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When I started KSP a year ago I came into it with a basic knowledge of Newtonian physics from high school and 1 college level course (last was 20 years ago). With this basic knowledge of force and mass I still struggled and didn't really understand what I now consider so basic I do without thinking.

It's a big simulator with no manual. The learning curve is steep. Gamers choke on it all the time because it does very little for you... as designed. I see gamers on youtube all the time launching straight up and then wondering why "it didn't put them into orbit". They have no clue that horizontal velocity is king and that altitude is just used to find a friction less environment.

For a basic orbit, try starting with a discussion on friction, gravity and Newton's Principia (even just the "cannon on a hill" diagram). Then let them flail, then show them a real rocket launch and ask them why it's done that way (why do they immediately turn east rather than just climb straight up?) and try emulating it in KSP. I'll bet the lights come on then.

After that... baby steps. I like the other ideas about having lots of save games they can open to put them into a specific situation.

PS Oh hey the math works in KSP BTW. It doesn't do it for you but I've seen people pull out a calculator mod, use real world equations, implement them, and get results.

Edited by bmyers831

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I don't have time to write a big reply, but I've toyed with using it in school. You could have students plan out their rockets instead of going right to test flights. Have a list of the masses of objects, the specific impulse of engines (http://wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Parts) and have them calculate the delta v expected in each stage. Technically Algebra, but fun nonetheless...

One thing I can suggest is downloading the Engineer mod. It gives many variables used in flight. For instance, during the rocket build you can see the delta v of your stages as well as gobs of stats in flight...

Group design of rockets is possible too...

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I would encourage people to think of Kerbal EDU as a set of tools to help kids get excited to learn about math and science. It is not a lesson plan or a text book that directly teaches students complex problems associated with rocketry and space exploration.

Kind of the same way you would not hand a kid a calculator and say "Here, learn some math". They are going to need guidance and context to use the tool properly and get something out of it.

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Just a thought - I note that the KIS (Kerbal Inventory System) mod has its PDF manual present as a book item that can be stowed in a crate or a Kerbals inventory - and can be opened and read in-game. Might it be possible to create other PDF books that could be accessed in-game that could help the children with various aspects of the game and the science involved?

If so, then perhaps you could have missions described in them, with references to the science involved where appropriate.

(I am neither a teacher nor do I have access to KerbalEDU incidentally).

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Hi guys,

I'm going to be introducing the game to a new year of students this year, but still trying to work out the kinks from last year as students were too discouraged by the game in comparison to other games I tried like Minecraft (including the Galacticraft Mod which pretty much adds space travel to Minecraft)

Thanks for the feedback though. I'll try to give the EDU missions a go, although from what I see there aren't that many and like someone mentioned, it's sad they stopped developing them.

I think this game would be perfect for a summer program, especially if you introduce mods like kOS that allows kids to use basic programming to program their launches and teaches kids the idea of coding. Then again, I think Minecraft has advanced so much more in that sense and mods like LearnToMod in Minecraft make that a lot easier to implement and a lot more affordable too.

I'm sort of stuck with this dilemma now. I do want to use KSP, but my students are obsessed with Minecraft a lot more and not a single one had a positive comment after their KSP edu experience :/

Two of the girls flat out told me (albeit jokingly) "we hate Kerbal Space Program" because they kept crashing and had trouble understanding the idea of orbits compared to other kids in class. They still loved the experience because cmon,they got to play a game in class, but they just didn't enjoy it as much as when we switched to Minecraft and got to become masters of their own world.

I think the overall learning curve is a bit too higher for middle-high school kids and in my opinion, many teens do not have the maturity level to persevere through constant failures that KSP throws at you. I'll see how it goes this year though and I'm kind of excited to do it with them as it's kinda fun to see kids scream "oh noooo my Jebedian died! oh wait, he's fine"

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Hi guys,

I'm going to be introducing the game to a new year of students this year, but still trying to work out the kinks from last year as students were too discouraged by the game in comparison to other games I tried like Minecraft (including the Galacticraft Mod which pretty much adds space travel to Minecraft)

Thanks for the feedback though. I'll try to give the EDU missions a go, although from what I see there aren't that many and like someone mentioned, it's sad they stopped developing them.

I think this game would be perfect for a summer program, especially if you introduce mods like kOS that allows kids to use basic programming to program their launches and teaches kids the idea of coding. Then again, I think Minecraft has advanced so much more in that sense and mods like LearnToMod in Minecraft make that a lot easier to implement and a lot more affordable too.

I'm sort of stuck with this dilemma now. I do want to use KSP, but my students are obsessed with Minecraft a lot more and not a single one had a positive comment after their KSP edu experience :/

Two of the girls flat out told me (albeit jokingly) "we hate Kerbal Space Program" because they kept crashing and had trouble understanding the idea of orbits compared to other kids in class. They still loved the experience because cmon,they got to play a game in class, but they just didn't enjoy it as much as when we switched to Minecraft and got to become masters of their own world.

I think the overall learning curve is a bit too higher for middle-high school kids and in my opinion, many teens do not have the maturity level to persevere through constant failures that KSP throws at you. I'll see how it goes this year though and I'm kind of excited to do it with them as it's kinda fun to see kids scream "oh noooo my Jebedian died! oh wait, he's fine"

And yet my school hardly allows phones.

Anyway, glad you're still considering KerbalEDU! Unless I've missed something, I'm sure SQUAD is still working on the project. However, their main focus is on the actual game itself, not KerbalEDU. You just have to teach the kids about it, as KSP is known to have a huge learning curve, they will benefit from it, because I know I did.

And if I may say so, I really don't think Minecraft's GalacticCraft mod is a good way to study orbits in geometry class. It doesn't exactly even have orbits, just the fake feelings of one. Your kids like it because, hey, let's face it, it's Minecraft. Of course your kids are going to love it.

Anyways, I hope you give KerbalEDU another shot. Feel free to ask me or the rest of the community any questions you may have

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I am great at KSP, I could orbit when I was in 6th grade, but not dock. I also don't know many people in my grade (8th) who play Minecraft anymore.

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The tweens at my library play Minecraft religiously; the teens do not, although they are effectively segregated in a different computer lab, and a few of them occasionally try KSP but are mostly interested in console games. None have really expressed interest in going farther than occasional explosions in KSP; it might be better if I could successfully demo a full mission but the demo is more limited than it used to be in parts.

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Yeah, all tweens play Minecraft religiously, and that seems to be true, but most kids play phone games religiously in the teens. I use Ubuntu religiously.

Ubuntu is love, Ubuntu is life...

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I'm working with middle school students and have had success  using Kerbal as a 'break' from regular assignments. (One of my learning objectives for students is how to budget their time.) This takes a bit of the focus off Kerbal, and students develop skills and expertise at their own rate. This also reduces 'off task' behavior since students feel like they are getting relief from other assignments. After a few weeks there is a cadre of Kerbal experts who can help their peers. My goal now is to turn Kerbal Challenges into a class assignment and teach content and collaboration explicitly. With  a new 'break' option to replace Kerbal. I'll keep you posted.

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1 minute ago, tangerinewolverine said:

I'm working with middle school students and have had success  using Kerbal as a 'break' from regular assignments. (One of my learning objectives for students is how to budget their time.) This takes a bit of the focus off Kerbal, and students develop skills and expertise at their own rate. This also reduces 'off task' behavior since students feel like they are getting relief from other assignments. After a few weeks there is a cadre of Kerbal experts who can help their peers. My goal now is to turn Kerbal Challenges into a class assignment and teach content and collaboration explicitly. With  a new 'break' option to replace Kerbal. I'll keep you posted.

Hi, welcome, and awesome!

This is a fairly old thread, however, and some users aren't even around anymore.

Your experience seems very interesting, you should create a thread specifically for that. I know I'd be interested in it.