In addition to working on some of the final chapters of Portal, I started playing a fun game called Kerbal Space Program. Basically, you are NASA for a bunch of alien creatures that look like green Despicable Me minions called Kerbals. They are not very bright but they are brave and determined. The only two stats for your wannabe astronauts are Courage and Stupidity. Jebediah Kerman is always your first astronaut and obviously is high on the scale for both measurements. You can make his rocket scare the bejesus out of other mortal Kerbals, but Jebediah will always have a smile. Now, Bill and Bob Kerman are a different story. Their reactions to impending doom are priceless.
The beauty of the game is that it teaches real physics. You will immediately remember the terms, apoapsis, periapsis, retrograde, and prograde, or you will not get very far out of the atmosphere. In my case, I had multiple flame-outs in the upper atmosphere before I realized my oxidizer was empty. I went back to the design screen and rebuilt my rocket and tried again.
The Kerbol solar system has many targets for manned and unmanned projects. Your home planet of Kerbin has two natural satellites known as Mün and Minmus. Other planets and dwarf-planets include Moho, Eve, Duna, Dres, Jool, and Eeloo. There are also A LOT of mods out there that will make the game easier or harder/realistic. There is a lot for adults and kids to do. My son’s answer to most problems is to add more rockets. Don’t worry, if you need help (and you probably will), you can always watch the expert known as Scott Manley on YouTube.
So, God Speed Jebediah Kerman…oh wait, Rest in Peace now. Sorry about that rocket exploding at launch. And Bill Kerman, I promise to send up a rescue crew to fetch you out of orbit as soon as I figure out how to plot an intercept.
Many Kerbals Died (and were reloaded) to bring us this information.