CLOSE
Original image
GlassLab

SimCityEDU: Gaming in the Classroom

Original image
GlassLab

I've been playing the new SimCity game for months. But starting today, kids in classrooms can play SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge!, a version of the game in which middle school students work through scenarios as the mayor of a simulated city. Here's a short video showing kids who beta tested the game:

Pollution Challenge! features six "missions," each of which focuses on a goal, but requires different kinds of problem-solving to complete. (And each of the challenges can be solved in multiple ways, so it's possible to approach the problem from many angles.) Several of the missions focus on reading as a crucial activity, so this is not just about play—it's about problem-solving in different modes. Although, yes, there's a pretty rad video game component too!

Students playtest the game. Image courtesy of GlassLab.

Pollution Challenge! is the first in a series of SimCityEDU games. The games are built to cover educational standards so teachers can fit them into a variety of classroom scenarios. I asked Jessica Lindl, General Manager at GlassLab, to explain how Pollution Challenge! differs from the SimCity game I've been playing. Here's her answer:

"SimCityEDU is customized for learning and assessment purposes, based on the new SimCity released in March of 2013. Thanks to the generous donation from Electronic Arts, we have modified the game into a series of missions that engage learners to solve real world problems. While learners solve these problems, game play data is gathered in our assessment engine and provides real-time estimates of student learning back to their teacher and parent.

"SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! acts as a powerful teaching tool for educators, integrating learning and assessment aligned to Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards in the same experience. Designed for middle school students, the game encourages students to think critically about the challenges facing modern cities and the world around them. In the game, students play the role of mayor, addressing issues of environmental impact in a virtual city while maintaining employment levels and citizen happiness.

"The suite of SimCityEDU tools includes teacher and student dashboards with easy-to-understand, standards-based reporting, as well as lesson plans to support use in the classroom. Teachers also have access to an online community where they can create, share and browse lesson plans and instructional ideas that are designed to address Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards."

Screenshot from SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! Image courtesy of GlassLab.

I also asked about educational goals—why use a game to teach students? Lindl responded:

"We want to take the fun and excitement of SimCity to change the outdated practice of testing. Our hope is to close the "engagement gap" in today's classrooms while providing real-time estimates of student learning to teachers and parents.

"Let me explain. Most classrooms haven't changed in the last 100 years, while outside of the classroom kids are learning in dramatically different ways—hence the engagement gap. We wanted to create something that was just as fun and exciting as what they were doing outside of the classroom—imagine kids leaping out of their desks when they get to "take a test" with SimCity, that's exactly what happened in our beta tests. At the same time, we wanted to dramatically improve the transparency of student learning. Today, kids take tests and get the results months later—oftentimes being shoved into a drawer at home. We want test results to be immediate, we also want to reveal a much deeper understanding of student learning. Our games provide thousands of learning activities on each learner—not just a multi-item test bank that shows only a limited view of learning.

"Based on the feedback from our beta where thousands of kids and teachers played the game across the country, we learned kids were incredibly engaged—teachers felt like a whole new conversation was happening around the learning because of student engagement and transparency of learning data."

If you're a classroom teacher, homeschool teacher, or parent, you can buy the game and integrate it into your curriculum. For more on the game, check out SimCityEDU.org and be sure to read this PDF explaining the missions, plus details on which standards are covered. There's also a community site with lesson plans, FAQs, webinars, and ways to interact with other people using SimCityEDU. Another useful resource is Matthew Farber's blog post about using SimCityEDU with his sixth grade class.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Graduates in These States Fare Best When It Comes to Student Debt
Original image
iStock

Student loan debt in the U.S. grows larger each year. According to CNBC, the average American in their 20s with student loans to pay off owes about $22,135. But college graduates from some states have it easier than those from others. As Money reports, choosing the right state in which to get your education may end up saving you $16,000 in loan payments.

That number comes from the latest student debt study [PDF] from the Institute for College Access and Success. The organization looked at four-year public and private nonprofit colleges to determine the states where debt levels skew low and where they creep into $30,000-plus territory. Graduates who study in Utah have it the best: 57 percent of students there graduate without debt, and those who have debt carry burdens of $19,975 on average. Behind Utah are New Mexico, California, Arizona, and Nevada, all with average debt loads of less than $25,000 a student.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is New Hampshire, where new graduates are sent into the workforce with $36,367 in debt looming over their heads. Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Minnesota all produce average student debts between $31,000 and $36,000. And though graduates from West Virginia don't owe the most money, they are the most likely to owe any money at all, with 77 percent of students from the state racking up some amount of debt. The variation from state to state can be explained by the types of colleges that are popular in each region. The Northeast, for example, is home to some of the country's priciest private colleges, while students in the West are more likely to attend a public state school with lower tuition.

If you've already received a degree from an expensive school in a high-debt state, you can't go back in time and change your decision. But you can get smart about tackling the debt you've already accumulated. Check out these debt-busting strategies to see if one is right for your situation.

[h/t Money]

Original image
iStock
arrow
This Just In
Want to Become a Billionaire? Study Engineering
Original image
iStock

If you want to get rich—really, really rich—chances are, you should get yourself an engineering degree. As The Telegraph reports, a new analysis from the UK firm Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment finds that more of the top 100 richest people in the world (according to Forbes) studied engineering than any other major.

The survey found that 75 of the 100 richest people in the world got some kind of four-year degree (though others, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, attended a university but dropped out before graduation). Out of those who graduated, 22 of those billionaires received engineering degrees, 16 received business degrees, and 11 received finance degrees.

However, the survey doesn't seem to distinguish between the wide range of studies that fall under the "engineering" umbrella. Building a bridge, after all, is a little different than electrical engineering or computing. Four of those 100 individuals studied computer science, but the company behind the survey cites Amazon's Jeff Bezos (who got a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton) and Google's Larry Page (who studied computer engineering at the University of Michigan and computer science at Stanford) as engineers, not computer scientists, so the list might be a little misleading on that front. (And we're pretty sure Bezos wouldn't be quite so rich if he had stuck just to electrical engineering.)

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment is, obviously, a sales-focused company, so there's a sales-related angle to the survey. It found that for people who started out working at an organization they didn't found (as opposed to immediately starting their own company, a la Zuckerberg with Facebook), the most common first job was as a salesperson, followed by a stock trader. Investor George Soros was a traveling salesman for a toy and gift company, and Michael Dell sold newspaper subscriptions in high school before going on to found Dell. (Dell also worked as a maitre d’ in a Chinese restaurant.)

All these findings come with some caveats, naturally, so don't go out and change your major—or head back to college—just yet. Right now, Silicon Valley has created a high demand for engineers, and many of the world's richest people, including Bezos and Page, earned their money through the tech boom. It's plausible that in the future, a different kind of boom will make a different kind of background just as lucrative. 

But maybe don't hold your breath waiting for the kind of industry boom that makes creative writing the most valuable major of them all. You can be fairly certain that becoming an engineer will be lucrative for a while.

[h/t The Telegraph]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios