SIM Aiming for STEM in Education
When I was a kid in elementary school, we got to go to the computer lab and play the game Oregon Trail to learn about history. It was amazing (except for when you got dysentery or measles), and I still look back on it fondly today. It was gaming to aid education, and it was really fun. However, after that I really didn’t see gaming appear again in the school setting, even through college as more innovative gaming systems were coming out regularly.
It’s been 30 years since my days on the Oregon Trail, and gaming in education is still at its earliest stage, but SimCity is taking a big step toward teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). In order to increase the use of gaming to create interactive virtual lesson plans, Electronic Arts, Inc. and GlassLab developed SimCityEDU. In a statement about the game, the developers said, “In the classroom, SimCity will be more than a game — it will be a way for the next generation of leaders to hone their skills through urban planning, environmental management, and socio-economic development."
The new game, a variation of an already-popular version of online gaming, will abide by U.S. Common Core standards, which are set to provide a consistent outline to teachers of what students should learn to prepare them for college or a career after their education. So, while responsible gaming has been shown to be good for young students, this more grown-up version of gaming could span a much larger audience into key areas of focus for development in the United States. Would you play video games if you knew it would help you on your tests and career? I would.