Looking for a fun and immersive way to teach his 8th grade students about space, science instructor Chad Shumaker brought Activision's 1984 sim Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space to his classroom. He wanted to do more than just have kids play the game, though, so he decided to build on the experience by housing the 27-year-old game in a cabinet.

He teamed up with a fellow teacher/woodworker at the school and constructed a 3' x 5' x 4.5' wooden cabinet cabinet, spending around $250 on the project. Students sit on a chair with a joystick attached to an arm, as they navigate their ship. A strip of LED lights and a battery operated fluorescent light positioned over the console provide limited lighting inside the simulator.

For added realism, he has students wear headsets while piloting the game, and he guides them through with instructions delivered from a walkie-talking outside the cabinet. The rest of the cabinet consists of a 19-inch Zenith Space Command Television sitting on top a cabinet.

All that work has paid off, as his students have really taken to the setup. "The space shuttle simulator is amazing," says eighth-grader Dylan Sterling. "Even though the graphics weren’t very good, it still seemed very realistic thanks to Mr. Shoe talking to you from outside. The whole setup is great. I hope we keep toying with it for the rest of the year."

Shumaker says he plans to eventually use the simulator with Absolute Software's Tomcat: The F-14 Fighter Simulator.

[Via Dr. Kwack. The Times-Reporter]