As excitement grows around the celebration of the Centennial of Flight commemorating the historic achievement by Orville and Wilbur Wright’s flight at Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17, 1903, NASA is taking a step forward to inspire the next generation of explorers.

A new educational software product designed by the educational technology team at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., has been licensed to MakerToys Inc., Silver Creek, N.Y., and soon will be commercially available for individual use by students in grades 5 through 8.

“‘Exploring Aeronautics’ was done in cartoon animation to make it appealing to kids,” said Andrew Doser of NASA Ames, a graphic artist who helped produce the CD-ROM. “It was developed by a team of multimedia programmers, artists and educators, in conjunction with numerous NASA Ames scientists, to introduce future generations of engineers to the fundamentals of flight, different aircraft and how they fly.”

Originally developed as teacher-paced software, the ‘Exploring Aeronautics’ CD-ROM is an excellent learning tool in a classroom setting and has been very popular with teachers. MakerToys has added a “Teaching Leader” to the CD-ROM as a tool to guide students through the wealth of information on the CD-ROM.

“Our company was about to develop an aeronautics CD-ROM of its own when we discovered NASA’s ‘Exploring Aeronautics,'” said Bill Maecker, president and owner of MakerToys. “We realized what a great learning tool ‘Exploring Aeronautics’ is for teaching the basics of flight while connecting these basics to NASA’s exciting work in this area”
“Our company is really excited about this opportunity to help implement NASA’s educational efforts,” said Maecker. “Kids and adults alike are going to love it. The AeroCD is the best there is for learning aeronautics.”

Part of NASA’s mission is to educate the public about its research and missions.  MakerToys is packaging the ‘Exploring Aeronautics’ software with other aeronautics-related resources into an ‘AeroCD.’  By producing the new software in different languages, including Spanish and Tagalog, MakerToys Inc. is making NASA’s educational tool available to a wider audience.

‘Exploring Aeronautics’ uses state-of-the-art technology to create movies that show real people doing real jobs in the aeronautics industry. The CD-ROM presents aircraft designs and testing techniques used by actual NASA engineers at work. 

“‘Exploring Aeronautics’ has been popular with teachers because it focuses on fundamental aeronautics concepts and includes a wealth of classroom print materials,” said Christina O’Guinn, NASA Ames educational technology team lead.  “Wide dissemination of the CD-ROM will provide a unique interactive way of educating more of our nation’s youth about aeronautics and encouraging them to pursue NASA careers in this area.”

This educational software can be used to learn how an airplane takes off, flies and lands. ‘Exploring Aeronautics’ also teaches children about different tools used in aeronautics, including wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics. The software’s graphics and its interactive nature help make the learning experience interesting and fun.

The new CD-ROM brings NASA’s interactive information to the public for the first time, as a great resource to stimulate minds and generate interest in aviation in a positive, active way.

“The commercialization of this unique and entertaining educational software program has high potential for achieving NASA’s mission to inspire the next generation of explorers,” said Phil Herlth of NASA Ame”ÿ Office of Technology Partnerships.