Communication and Learning
Prof. Venkatesh Rajamanickam
This project will be exhibited at Design Degree Show 2015, 13th to 17th June.
Odyssey: An Interactive Simulation to Learn the Concepts of the Solar System
Children of age group 10 to 14 face difficulties to understand the concepts of the Solar System as it is vast beyond comprehension and there is no scope for direct exposure. Astronomy kits are usually expensive to afford and the current means applied in Government schools fail to address this issue.
Discussions with teachers and students at schools and NGOs in Mumbai revealed that there is a gap in the understanding of the students. Teachers find it hard to teach as the size and numbers are beyond comprehension. There are no affordable means for the teachers to use in the class in local schools. Educational videos from various reliable sources become a usual way to explain the concepts. But in all these means, the communication is very much one sided. Means of learning through tinkering and play is not available. The astronomical kits available in the market are usually costly, and since Government schools cannot afford to buy many of them, the whole class cannot interact with it at the same time. There are chances of damage also.
This project highlights how the Solar System can be explained through an interactive media. Odyssey is an interactive virtual Solar System which helps children visualize concepts of scale and distance and various events such as Seasons of Earth and Lunar Phases. Odyssey creates a realistic simulation of the movement of the planets and various other events by taking into account the Planets’ positions at a given time, their mass and the gravitational forces between them. Odyssey follows an approach where students figure out concepts by trial and error, by changing different values and seeing the effects in real-time thereby learning by doing. It also leads to student-teacher conversations about the concepts.