NASA App Uses ATC To Teach Math

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A new free app from NASA is designed to help kids understand math by solving simulated ATC problems, but developers hope it will also inspire them to pursue a career in aeronautics. "Using an interactive game to spark their interest, while at the same time teaching them fundamental math concepts is a perfect way to help cultivate the next generation of engineers and technologists," said Leland Melvin, NASA's associate administrator for education. The "Sector 33" app, which can be downloaded free from Apple's app store, allows the player to work a sector of airspace spanning Nevada and California, adjusting each airplane's path and speed to move as fast as possible while maintaining separation and avoiding thunderstorms.

The game is designed for students in middle school and above. It's part of the Smart Skies educational software project developed by NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate with cooperation from the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. The app is compatible with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. An Android version is in the works and will be available soon, NASA said.