ElectroCity – environmental education


Just received an email from my electricity supplier in Christchurch – telling me of an educational website they are sponsoring called ElectroCity. It’s worth checking out – reminds me a lot of the SimCity projects that I used to run with kids at school – dividing into groups to see who could create the most successful city, and using the experience to discuss issues such as taxes, transport, recreation, governance etc – and coming to understand the issues involved in designing and maintaining a city.

ElectroCity is very similar, although its focus is on teaching about about energy, sustainability and environmental management in New Zealand. I worked my way through the very well constructed tutorial an can see real potential in this being used as a virtual learning experience in the classroom.

There’s a resource area for teachers, a very helpful FAQ area, and some pretty impressive prizes being offered in two categories, one for schools and one for public contributions.

The game is designed to be played online – but something I found to be of interest is that there is an option to download a limited version of the game that runs on any computer and doesn’t need internet access, with two versions available, one for MacOSX and one for WindowsXP. (I haven’t had the chance to try these yet, so can’t vouch for what they’re like).

If I was back in a class again I’d certainly be looking at this as a useful learning resource – some notes from the website explain why:

ElectroCity is not a win or lose game. There are lots of different ways to play and you can set your class specific objectives. For example, if you wish to try a green approach, a win might be considered any city with 50,000 people and an A rating in the environment category. Or you might focus on economics and get the kids to go for the most money.

ElectroCity is designed to be flexible, so you can use it as you wish. A whole module that deals with energy, the environment, tourism and growth could be centred around the game, mixing formal lessons with fun interactive game play. You could return to the game again and again over several weeks and compare how the kids played at the beginning with how they play at the end, putting their new knowledge into practical use and getting the kids to assess what they’ve learnt to help them make better decisions in the game.

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