Educational Games for Kids: Proceed With Due Caution


When I posted recently about an online game released in New Zealand ostensibly with the intent of teaching kids about responsible energy use and taking proper care of the environment, I pointed out that it appeared to be a great way to teach kids about the concept . But an astute commenter pointed out that the sponsor of the game, a company called Genesis Energy, has been rated by Greenpeace as the worst offender in that country when it comes to polluting the environment. Within an hour our own Lloyd Alter popped me a quick email linking to yet another story on an "energy game" scheduled to be released this September, but this time by Chevron. The headline read "Chevron Promotes Petroleum with Clean Energy Game," and this time it appears that if you even try to create a future without fossil fuels you'll get an error message that indicates that's just not possible Now I'm well aware that the most you can often expect from a duck is a "quack", and that fossil fuels will have to play a role for some time in our energy mix, but with global warming and peak oil looming together like evil twin ghosts on the horizon we'd better encourage our kids to start imagining a future without them. And while I believe it is reasonable to commend both companies for creating games that include renewable energy sources and help students confront a bit of reality, it's clear that teachers everywhere had better pay very close attention to who, precisely, is putting out these games. The level of natural bias may wind up successfully undermining the very real message we need to send to children that the only reasonable hope for a sustainable future we have is one where the use of fossil fuels is nothing more than a tiny speck in the rear-view mirror.

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