Looks like Jeff Highsmith is the frontrunner for Internet Dad of the Year! He created a wonderfully complex custom desk for his son, featuring a bunch of retro NASA-style spacecraft controls, a giant magnetic world map (with a little spacecraft to move around), launch checklists, and even real-world simulations (like Apollo 12's lightning strike -- the kid can literally "switch SCE to Aux" to fix it, just like flight controller John Aaron did!). The desk is crammed with functional buttons that mix actual NASA spacecraft simulation with goofy fun. (For instance, there's a "BOOSTER" grid of nine buttons that play cool rocket noises; if they're overused, the system goes into a warning mode, requiring Mission Control -- Highsmith's son -- to issue a reset command.)
This is wonderful. Watch, but you can only play after you've finished your homework:
Now, here's the best part -- Highsmith wrote up a detailed description of how it works over at MAKE, even linking to a free download of the source code he wrote for the controller. It's a lot of work, and you need serious skills to wire it all up, but you could make one of these! Now get to work, people.