The creators of the popular SimCity video game franchise are leveraging its popularity to help teachers bring cutting edge digital tools to the classroom. Working with GlassLab, Electronic Arts Inc. has announced the launch of SimCityEDU, a digital platform aimed at encouraging students' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Instructors will be able to use the platform to create lesson plans based in the SimCity environment that bring to life real world problems facing the world today. Students will be able to experience what impact their problem-solving skills could have outside the classroom.
This will serve not only as an introduction to STEM, but also to urban planning, socio-economic population development and environmental management.
"For decades, SimCity has been embraced by the educational community as an engaging videogame that also provides a powerful learning experience, teaching problem solving skills through imaginative civic gameplay," said Lucy Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA's Maxis Label. "We want to up the ante of SimCity's educational influence. Through our partnership with GlassLab, SimCity will become the foundation of a program to re-imagine learning in a way that will inspire today's youth to get excited about STEM education and become the problem solvers of tomorrow."
By its very nature, SimCity has drawn the attention of educators because it gave them a tool with which they can shrink global problems to a scale readily accessible to students. Its popularity has served as an inspiration and drove interest in careers in urban planning, architecture and even in local politics. The latest version allows users to control more than just a city, allowing – for the first time – decisions to have an impact on the world beyond the city borders. That means players will also be addressing problems of climate change, natural disasters and search for new energy resources.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter hosted a panel today, titled "Learn. Build. Create.: Connected Learning Over the Next Four Years" at the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. Featuring a diverse group of panelists including Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy Roberto Rodriguez, MacArthur Foundation Director of Education for U.S. Programs Constance Yowell, and musician and philanthropist John Legend, the group engaged in a discussion on the importance of community-centered, connected learning. The discussion focused on public-private partnerships with a goal to advance STEM education, including EA and GlassLab's collaborative effort on SimCityEDU.
SimCityEDU is a combined effort of EA and GlassLab, a non-profit organization that brings together representatives of the gaming industry and education experts in order to gamify the classroom.