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Why Use Sim City 2000?

Sim City 2000 uses the power of simulation software to create intriguing environments that allow students to experiment with models of real world systems. These simulated environments serve as a highly motivating and dynamic tool for learning.

In Erving, a team of fifth and sixth grade teachers use the Sim City 2000 computer simulation software as the core of a two month multidisciplinary study of cities. The students use the Sim City 2000 software to create virtual cities that they control. Students invariably see the cities as an extension of themselves and are highly motivated to succeed. As the mayor of their individual cities, they learn what factors impact on the success or failure a city and how these factors interact. They are often humbled by recognizing the limits of even an omnipotent mayor in determining the well being of a city. They learn the practical values of patience, thrift, planning and balancing the competing demands on municipal funds. With a deeper understanding of city issues, the students write and deliver reelection speeches as mayor of their Sim City metropolis, using ClarisWorks to construct charts and graphs to bolster their campaign claims and promises. Later, the students design and build real model skyscrapers inspired by research on the architecture of skyscrapers worldwide. The students use the Internet to do research and plan field trips to real cities. A field trip to New York City is the culmination of the project. Driving and walking through a real city provides the students with many more questions to ponder, especially the sociological and emotional realities of life in communities large and small.

Our Sim City 2000 unit includes all students. All of our fifth and sixth grade special needs children are completely integrated into the regular education classrooms and all of them participate in every lesson. All students become eager to study the history and current development of real cities as they begin to look at cities in a different way. Using the Internet and other sources of information, they do research on real cities. They develop an appreciation of the complex nature of mankind's urban centers and the many factors involved in maintaining these communities. While learning about real cities they also learn basic methods of study in history and economics as well as practical applications of math and science. Using this model, we have been able to effectively integrate computers into the elementary curriculum in ways that motivate even the most reluctant students. In the process, the students develop important oral and written communication skills and a deeper understanding of important social studies content and concepts.

Other teachers with reasonable access to a school computer lab or a pod of classroom computers can easily duplicate this unit and use it with their own students.

The Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Frameworks call for teachers to teach language arts in ways that will "teach learners how to reason and use language purposefully as they comprehend, construct and convey meaning." The Massachusetts History and Social Science Frameworks aim to teach children the fundamental historical interrelationships between man, society and the environment that has led to our present civilization. Our Sim City 2000 project demonstrates how the creative use of simulation software can help teachers create exceptional lessons that will meet the goals outlined in the frameworks. Two examples are:

History and Social Science Curriculum Frameworks

Economics - Learning Standard 11 - Fundament Economic Concepts

Students will understand fundamental economic concepts, including choice, ownership, exchange, cooperation, competition, purposive effort, entrepreneurship, incentive and money.

Geography - Learning Standard 10 - Human Alteration of Environments

Students will describe the ways in which human activity has changed the world, such as removing natural barriers; transplanting some animal and plant species, and eliminating others; increasing or decreasing natural fertility of land and the mining of resources. They explain how science, technology, and institutions of many kinds have affected human capacity to alter environments.

Comments to Michael Lipinski - Web Editor
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