Create Your Own Solar System!

Educational games can be fun and addicting, and still teach you something. Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) has presented a new game called Super Planet Crash. The game is interesting because it’s a lot harder than you might think to create a planetary system that will actually last 500 years. Considering that some planetary systems last a whole lot longer than that, you gain an appreciation for the delicate balance that is being maintained by the various gravitational bodies. So far, the longest my solar system has lasted is 312 years. Let’s hope no one is counting on me to create something lasting!

The game is actually quite simple. You select a gravitational body from the list and put it in place in the solar system. The body then starts to rotate using all the laws of physics we now know. If it doesn’t manage to crash into anything, you have a lasting solar system. The game awards extra points for things like planets in habitable zones. The reason the game is so addicting is that there are infinite possibilities and only a few of them really will last the full 500 years. Trying out the various combinations helps you understand planetary physics better, but it’s just fun seeing the various bodies rotate around their sun as well.

I’m sure that more than a few adults will play the game given that APOD is frequented by people with a need to know about the solar system. However, I can see kids getting quite addicted to the game and that’s really a good thing. The more we can interest kids in science, the better the outcome for education and our society as a whole. After all, many of the people who excel in science today were motivated by writers, artists, and dreamers of the past. Getting kids interested in science is essential for the future health of our society as a whole and I see games like Super Planet Crash as one way to do it.

Whether you like the game because it’s fun or educational, you’ll have to admit that it’s quite addicting. If you need a quick fix for the midday boredom that seems to overtake us all, check this game out.


Review of Telestrations

It can be hard to come up with a game that isn’t boring, that everyone in the family can play, and that doesn’t take forever to play. Telestrations is a game that fulfills all of these requirements and far more. My sister has said that Telestrations has turned into one of her favorite games and I must admit that I like it quite a lot too.

The basis behind Telestrations is simple communication. You get a word that you must draw on a pad that is issued to you. It actually helps if you aren’t very artistic. I don’t think the game would be quite as much fun with a group of artists as it is for those of us who are a little lacking in drawing skills. After you draw your word (not letting anyone else know what it is), you pass your pad to the next person. That person looks at what you have drawn and tries to guess the word. He/she writes the word down and passes the pad on.

The third person draws the word that the second person guessed. After creating this new drawing, the third person passes it onto the fourth. The cycle continues until you get your pad back. Because each person has come up with a different interpretation of your word, the results are hysterical. You go back through the drawings and guesses to see what sort of journey your original word has taken.

There is supposedly some means of keeping score and determining a winner, but we haven’t actually ever done that. The fun is in seeing what other people come up with. The results really are quite humorous at times. However, as far as I’m concerned, the best part is that everyone is talking to everyone else and everyone is having a great time.

Unlike a lot of games on the market, this one is completely reusable. Except for having to replace the drawing pens at some point, once you buy the game you have everything needed to have a great time. The pads are plastic coated and work like white boards. The kit even comes with some special swatches of cloth for wiping off previous drawings. If you’re looking for a good time at a family event where the event is held in the house, you really do need to check out Telestrations.