The user can either accelerate or slow the rates. This option is a strong exploratory tool. It is useful to explore “What if” questions, which helps understand how phenomena occur in the solar system. For example, the user can accelerate or slow the Earth rotation rate and deduce what would happen as a result. (Gazit, Yair & Chen, under review; Yair, Mintz & Litvak, 2001)
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
The Virtual Solar System is a non-immersive 3D virtual environment. The user flies in the solar system by the computer mouse as a spaceship.
The user can change the speed of the whole system by changing the rotation and revolution rates. The goal of this tool is to enable the user to view and explore phenomena deeply. The results of the change in rate can be seen immediately on the screen, and the user can deduce how the basic astronomical phenomena would change. (Gazit & Chen, 2003; Gazit, Chen & Yair, under review; Yair, Mintz & Litvak, 2001)
Gazit, E. (2004). The gain and pain in taking the pilot seat: Interaction dynamics within virtual learning environments. The 3d International Symposium on VR & Rehabilitation, The Institute for Interdisciplinary Applications of Computer Science, University of Haifa, Israel, 17-18 March 2004.
Gazit, E. & Chen, D. (2003). Using the Observer to analyze learning in virtual worlds. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments and Computers, 35(3), 400-407.
Gazit, E., Chen, D. & Yair, Y. (under review). Emerging Conceptual Understanding of Complex Astronomical Phenomena by Using a Virtual Solar System (VSS). The Journal of Science Education and Technology.
Gazit, E., Chen, D., & Yair, Y. (2004). Using a virtual solar system to develop a conceptual understanding of basic astronomical phenomena. In: Cantoni, L., & McLoughlin, C. (Eds.). Proceedings of ED-Media 2004 World conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. (p. 4344-4349). Lugano: Switzerland, June 21-26, 2004.
Yair, Y., Mintz, r. & Litvak, S. (2001). 3D-virtual reality in science education: An implication for astronomy teaching. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 20(3(), 293-305.
Yair, Y., Schur, Y. & Mintz Rachel. (2003). A “Thinking Journey” to the Planets Using Scientific Visualization Technologies: Implications to Astronomy Education. Journal of Science Education and technology, 12(1), 43-49.