Tonight I’m thinking a little about my post-STAR test lesson plans. As I mentioned last week I’d like to expand my Earth Day activities a little bit this year. I’ve never really done that day justice and with all the talk of global warming, carbon footprints, and rising fuel prices I’m feeling a little guilty. I am also in the middle of reading Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning by Marc Prensky. Its opening my mind a little more to using games in education – I’m seeing just how powerful they can be as a learning tool.
Well as if someone was reading my mind, a little fate intervened tonight and in my Bloglines account I found a post by the Tech Savvy Educator about ElectroCity. This online game produced by Genesis Energy, a New Zealand energy company, challenges players to create a viable community while teaching about energy, sustainability and environmental management. In 150 turns players are forced to make decisions regarding prospecting, using environmental resources, development, and energy production. At the same time they have to keep their citizens happy and refain from bankrupting the city.
I played a round of ElectroCity and here are my results. As you can see I did pretty well in terms of popularity and environmentalism. I built beaches, an airport, a campground, two hydroelectric plants, and tons of wind farms. Everyone was happy and healthy. However, I didn’t do so well when it came to energy management and population. My citizens kept moving – I think because I didn’t have enough industry. Since hydroelectric and windmills don’t produce tons of electricity for their size I also had to constantly purchase energy from other places. I’m ready to play again and learn from my mistakes the first time!
There lies the connection I hope this game will help my students make. By choosing different alternatives they can help to design a community that succeeds in all four areas. This game is a fantastic conversation starter about the balance between environmentalism and industry. Check out ElectroCity when you have a chance!