After ten days doing mock experiments in a simulated Martian environment, astronauts climbed into their “spacecraft” and then sat there for 240 days for their trip home. The spacecraft did not literally move, but time most certainly did! While inevitably a taxing experience, the simulation sought to prepare the astronauts for the real thing—a journey to and a landing on Mars. The Red Planet is a staggering 140,000,000 miles from mother earth. As if not grueling enough, the simulation included fake technical problems and emergencies. This is all in the hope that we might someday visit the planet Ray Bradbury envisioned (at least fictionally) we could one day colonize. More proof of the potential for simulations? Simulator training alone qualifies a pilot to fly a new airplane for the first time on a revenue flight.
How could simulators be valuable to educators? Are there experiences that would be particularly appropriate for simulations? Which parts of teaching and learning fit especially well into the simulation format? The possibilities for professional learning and growth are endless!