In an effort to foster hands-on, inquiry-based learning in science and math, the
NASA Glenn Research Center has developed a series of interactive computer programs
for students. All of the programs are Java applets which run in your browser, on-line, over
the World Wide Web.
The programs can also be downloaded to your computer so that you can use them without
being on-line. The programs are in the
public domain and are constantly being modified and
upgraded based on your input.
We have also developed a series of Beginner's Guides that
accompany each of the software packages to explain the science and math.
You can access the Beginner's Guides at the
bottom of this page. And for teachers, we have developed almost 200
to test the student's knowledge of the material. These grade-specific activities
have been developed by teachers during summer workshops and are aligned with science
and math standards.
We would like to know if you are using any of these simulators or
the accompanying Beginner's Guides.
of any experiences you have with these products.
Click on the icon below for more information about the major programs.
FoilSim III computes the theoretical lift and drag of a variety of airfoil shapes.
The user can control the shape, size, and inclination of the airfoil and the
atmospheric conditions in which the airfoil is flying.
The program includes a stall model for the airfoil, a model of the Martian
atmosphere, and the ability to specify a variety of fluids for lift comparisons.
The program has graphical and numerical output, including an interactive probe
which you can use to investigate the details of flow around an airfoil.
( 455KB) EngineSim is a simulator
that models the design and testing of jet engines.
The program works in two modes: Design Mode
or Tunnel Test Mode. In the Design Mode, you can change design variables including
the flight conditions, the engine size, the inlet performance, the turbo machinery
compressor and turbine performance, the combustors or burner performance, or
the nozzle performance. For a turbofan engine design you can also vary the fan
performance and the bypass ratio. When you have a design that you like, you
can switch to the Tunnel Test Mode which simulates the testing of a jet engine
on a test stand. You can then vary the test altitude, flight speed and
throttle setting. Several existing engines are also modeled in EngineSim.
(111KB) Using the TunnelSim
applet, students learn more about the aerodynamics of wind tunnels by changing the
shape and flow conditions through the tunnel. This program can be used for the preliminary design
of an open return wind tunnel. Speeds are limited to low subsonic operation and the program
warns the student of high speed flow and possible separation in the diffuser.
Undergraduate Computer Programs:
Here is a group of Java programs which were designed to help
undergraduate engineering students learn about the basics of
aerodynamics and propulsion. There are programs to solve for the flows across shock waves
and expansion fans, the flow through crossed and reflected shocks, and
the properties in regions of isentropic flow. There are also special versions
of EngineSim and FoilSim for undergraduates.
(245KB) Using the TunnelSys
applet, students learn about the process of wind tunnel testing. TunnelSys is
composed of three programs that simulate the design, wind tunnel testing, and post-processing
of wind tunnel data. There are separate applets for the design and testing portions which
illustrate details of the geometry and tunnel test techniques. There is an application version
of TunnelSys that allows three students to work as a team designing and testing an aircraft wing
in a virtual wind tunnel. With the application, students can save the results of their designs
and testing to output files.
This program presents a variety of multiple choice math and physics problems involving aircraft
performance. The student can choose from several different types of aircraft and
must answer questions about the range, fuel usage, acceleration, velocity and
location of the aircraft during take-off.
RangeGames can record your answers for teacher evaluation, or you can just
play for fun.
This program lets you design and study the flight of a model rocket.
You can vary the size of the rocket, the number of fins, and the
materials used to construct the rocket.
You can choose from a variety of available model rocket engines and test fly
your rocket on the computer. The program computes the stability of your design and
the flight trajectory. Output includes the maximum altitude which the rocket achieves.
You can then compare the computed and actual performance of your model rocket.
This program lets you design and study the flight of a kite.
You can select from five different types of kites and then vary the
length, width and types of
materials used to construct the kite.
You then trim the kite by setting the length of the bridle and tail and
the position of the knot attaching the control line to the bridle.
Finally, you test fly
your kite on the computer by setting the wind speed and the length of control line.
The program computes the aerodynamic forces, weight, and stability of your design and
the shape of the control line as it sags under its own weight.
Output includes the maximum altitude which the kite achieves.
You can then compare the computed and actual performance of your kite design.
Using the SoundWave
applet, students learn about sounds and how they are transmitted through the air.
A "bug" emits a sound that is detected by a microphone. The sound waves
are animated so that you can see how sound is transmitted.
You can move the bug and vary his speed, which demonstrates the Doppler effect
of frequency change for a moving sound source. You can make the bug move faster
than the speed of sound to see the formation of Mach waves through the flow.
Using the SoccerNASA
applet, students learn about aerodynamics by controlling the conditions of
a soccer kick. Soccer players can "bend" or curve the ball if flight by
putting a lot of spin on the ball. In the simulation, you can try to score on
a penalty kick, a free kick, or a corner kick.
You can vary the speed of the ball, spin on
the ball, location on the field for a free kick,
and location and weather conditions at the stadium. All of these conditions
affect the flight of the ball.
The program computes the three dimensional trajectory of the flight
of the ball as you try to score a goal .
(39KB) Using the CurveBall
applet, students learn more about aerodynamics by controlling the conditions of
a big league baseball pitch. You can vary the speed of the pitch, the spin on
the ball, the release point, and the location of the stadium which affects the atmospheric
conditions and the amount of curve on the ball. The program computes balls and strikes
and tells you how far your pitch passes the center of the plate .
Using the HitModeler
applet, students learn more about aerodynamics by controlling the flight conditions of a
batted baseball. You can vary the speed and angle of the ball leaving the bat,
the direction and strength of the wind,
and the location and weather conditions at the stadium, which affects the atmospheric
conditions and the amount of drag on the ball. The program computes the trajectory
of the ball as you try to hit a home run.
Wright 1901 Wind Tunnel:
(753KB) Using the Wright 1901 Wind Tunnel
applet, students learn about the history of wind tunnel testing. In 1901, the Wright brothers
built a small wind tunnel in which they performed detailed tests on 35 different wing models.
The models were tested on two balances to determine the lift and drag coefficients for the wings
as function of angle of attack. With the software you can duplicate all of the brothers' tests
using the same procedures used by the brothers. The process requires recording data and performing
trigonometric calculations to reduce the data to performance plots. The 35 models are grouped
to provide various parametric studies of the effects of wing camber, apsect ratio, wing tip
design, and number of wings on lift to drag ratio.
This program lets you study how pressure, temperature, and density
change through the atmosphere. You can study the atmosphere of the Earth or of Mars.
Since speed of sound depends on the atmospheric gas and the temperature, you can
also output the local speed of sound and the Mach number for a selected aircraft
velocity. You can either input a selected altitude, or change altitude using an
Here is a group of computer animations which were designed to help
high school chemistry students learn about the basics of the gas laws
and the equation of state. The state of a gas is determined by the pressure,
temperature, mass, and volume of the gas. The program lets you fix two of these
variables and observe the relation of the other two variables by changing the
value of one of them.
- Beginner's Guide Home Page
- Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics
- Beginner's Guide to Propulsion
- Beginner's Guide to Wind Tunnels
- Beginner's Guide to Model Rockets
- Beginner's Guide to Compressible Aerodynamics
- Beginner's Guide to Kites
- NASA Soccer Home Page
- NASA Baseball Home Page
- Aerospace Resources