Electrocity: Teaching Kids to Manage Energy, Human Needs Responsibly Through Gaming
With all of the very real concerns about the future of energy usage on the planet, Genesis Energy, an energy supplier and retailer in New Zealand has come up with a terrific way of helping kids develop a strong basis on which to develop future knowledge about the issues surrounding global energy usage without overwhelming them with every sophisticated detail... Essentially, they've come up with a game not too unlike SimCity, where kids get to develop their own city in a game that features 150 "turns"; each of which is a chance to make a wide array of decisions about the usage of energy, natural resources, and ultimately the future of the population within it.
Kids start every game out with a small city consisting of 10,000 inhabitants and a wind farm that provides all of the electricity they need. But it's both flexible and realistic, allowing parents and teachers to adapt it to various scenarios... Do your kids want to go for unrestrained economic growth and all the luxurious accoutrements that money can buy? No problem. But be prepared for your inhabitants to pay a price environmentally, economically and socially in the process. Don't think it's a bad idea to let the population of the city grow so fast it overwhelms the existing infrastructure? Hey, no problem there either... But be prepared to pay through the nose for electricity on the open market when they all reach for the light switch and then crank up the air conditioning.
Ultimately, kids earn a score based on how well they manage energy, the environment, and human needs… Helping them to learn that developing wisely in the face of limited resources is a bright idea. And if you’re a school teacher in New Zealand there’s the added bonus of being able to register your classes to win prizes for the school based on how well they are able to successfully manage the future.