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The simulation game provides a personalized experience. Students expand or trim tax breaks and spending cuts that will affect issues they feel are important. They’ll experience the concerns, frustrations, and occasional triumphs involved in trying to balance the federal budget firsthand.
Teachers can use the simulation game as a jumping-off point to talk about U.S. politics and the cause-and-effect relationship between tax and funding decisions and the national debt level. Information about how the game uses the Congressional Budget Office budget model, and forecast data can also be used to discuss probability and other similar concepts.
Additional information may be needed to explain how the major political parties are structured and who makes what decisions. But the game should help kids better understand how parties make decisions and support certain issues based on their beliefs and goals, and the effect those choices can have on the federal budget.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: The 2012 edition of the Budget Hero game has been retired. However, users are encouraged to visit the site to leave feedback for possible future versions of the game.
Budget Hero is a browser-based game that illustrates how U.S. federal budget money is spent. Kids select three causes that interest them from options like national security, health and wellness, and energy independence. Players then view the effect their spending increases and decreases will have on the U.S. budget deficit, surplus, and debt level over the next decade. Buildings grow and decrease in line with monetary decisions; gauges also show where the level of debt and other considerations stand.
Budget Hero also provides a considerable amount of information about spending and tax policies and programs. Users can click on each potential expense to read about the pros and cons involved in either boosting or reducing the program, and can also raise or lower taxes to try to balance the budget.
Before playing, students can watch a brief intro that explains how the federal budget and game generally work. However, the monetary and political concepts involved may be a little too complex for younger kids who haven’t learned much in school yet about the government. High schoolers, though, should be able to grasp the theories. The game can help them learn to balance their personal opinions and priorities with the factual information that’s offered to judge the risks and rewards involved in each decision.
Budget Hero often involves difficult choices. Seeing the immediate effect certain cuts or increases will have on the budget’s bottom line can help reinforce some important spending concepts, including how to balance (and stick to) a household budget and how to identify and prioritize needs over emotional arguments.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
Reading Informational Text
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.