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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 activities 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, activities, or the accompanying Beginner's Guides. Please notify of any experiences you have with these products.

Click on the icon below for more information about the major programs.

Link to FoilSim Applet FoilSim III: (80KB) 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.
Link to EngineSim Applet EngineSim: ( 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.
Link to TunnelSim Applet TunnelSim: (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.
Link to Undergrad Programs 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, FoilSim and TunnelSyS for undergraduates.
Link to TunnelSys Applet TunnelSys: (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.
Link to Range Applet RangeGames: (487KB) 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.
Link to RocketModeler Applet RocketModeler: 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.
Link to KiteModeler Applet KiteModeler: 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.
Link to Soundwave Applet SoundWave: 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.
Link to SoccerNASA Applet SoccerNASA: 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 .
Link to Baseball Applet CurveBall: (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 .
Link to HitModeler Applet HitModeler: 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.
Link to Wright 1901 Wind Tunnel Applet 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.
Link to Atmosphere Applet Atmosphere Applet: 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 aircraft slider.
Link to GasLab Program GasLab Program: 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.


Button to Display Aerodynamics Index Button to Display Propulsion Index Button to Display Wind Tunnel Index Button to Display Model Rocket Index Button to Display Hi Speed Aero Index Button to Display Kite Index
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


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: May 13 2021

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