Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2013

Enercities

Environmentally-minded city sim models sustainable building

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Variety of ecological, economic, and technoloical issues organically woven into play.

Cons: Won't impress SimCIty devotees, and a bit brief.

Bottom Line: It carves out a useful niche in a popular genre, showing how city planning, technological development, economics, and quality of life intersect with sustainability.

Teachers can use Enercities as a poignant introduction to renewable resources, and to drive home the need to figure out alternatives to fossil fuels. It should work great as a discussion starter, or as a lead-in to research or building projects where students have to think through and/or create models for sustainability in their communities. Kids could also think large scale, and build models of future cities that make better use of resources. It's probably best played individually, and teachers may want to pause play and address questions for the edification of the whole class as they arise. Take note that the Enercities website also has decent lesson plans that might provide inspiration.

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Enercities is a more stripped down SimCity style game where students take charge of planning a sustainable, 200 person community of the future. Students build a city, placing power grids, housing developments, industrial zones, and parks. Since it's focused on sustainable development and communities, students need to strike a balance between economy, ecology, population growth, and quality of life by building the right stuff, and making good use of upgrades. Upgrades provide perks that improve energy efficiency, lower carbon footprints, etc. 

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By responsibly managing a growing community, kids learn about resource scarcity, the environmental impact of development, and sustainable building practices, all of which are critical to understanding the modern world. Kids also practice valuable skills like time, resource, and money management, and see how each of these skills and all of the covered issues are caught in an interconnected web. Kids will gain fresh perspective on the costs of fossil fuels and the need for clean energy, as they struggle to curb carbon footprint and deal with population growth.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids will dive into this intuitive and interesting SimCity-like game. They're likely to want to play again and again, trying to improve their performance and beat their high scores.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids must make careful choices to manage the economy, energy grid, and population growth. This carries a powerful message about resource management, green energy, and the role of buisinesses in a community.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

A great tutorial and a clear scoring system starts kids off on the right foot. The game supports 12 major languages, but the text is not read out loud for players. Extensive help is available through downloadable lesson plans.


Common Sense Reviewer
Jenny Bristol Homeschooling parent

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