Teachers use 'SimCity' as teaching tool for middle schoolers

"SimCity" creators have teamed with GlassLab to launch a new in-classroom experience that makes learning more fun and engaging for students.

The monumentally popular world-building video game of yore, "SimCity," has put on a fresh coat of paint in the name of education, according to the KQED website.

The maker of "SimCity," Electronic Arts, has teamed with the Institute of Play's GlassLab to create a game that they hope will capture the imaginations and drive of middle schoolers.

In a nutshell, GlassLab explains: "The platform, called SimCityEDU, will serve as an online community to create and share learning tools that support use of the game in the classroom.

"SimCityEDU's curricular resources will be aligned to U.S. Common Core State Standards. These learning tools will also focus on developing key 21st-century skills, like collaboration, time management and systems thinking."

GlassLab's general manager, Jessica Lindl, noted to KQED that teachers have reached out, saying they are having a hard time engaging students on the level that they are being engaged elsewhere.

When it comes to diving deep into multi-faceted learning experiences, the teachers are looking toward technology. SimCityEDU is offering experiences in math, science, civics and economics — essentially focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Related: Why are women underrepresented in science and math careers?

GlassLab is working with those teachers in an online community to become better informed about the needs of the students — and the teachers — according to KQED.

Even though some teachers have used the commercial "SimCity" as a more open-ended classroom learning tool, the EDU version is tailored to deliver assessments of the students' choices and learning curve during the game — and pair it with Common Core standards.

But in the end, it is the fun learning experience that will keep kids coming back.

According to USA Today, students pose as both the architect and mayor of a fictional town. They create the infrastructure, jobs, housing and the plan to attract people to their town. Once they have built a community, the students work collaboratively to keep it thriving. The game also offers problems for students to solve, such as prioritizing town projects and fixing power outages.

SimCityEDU launched in March.


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