Asee peer logo

Using Simcity 4 Software As An Educational Tool To Complement Middle School Science And Mathematics

Download Paper |

Conference

2008 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Engineering in Middle Schools

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

13.1354.1 - 13.1354.13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/4121

Download Count

404

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Matthew Cathell Drexel University

visit author page

Matthew D. Cathell received B.A. degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2003 from La Salle University. He will complete a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2008 at Drexel University. Matthew is in his second year as an NSF GK-12 Teaching Fellow. He has also received funding support from the Koerner Family Fellowship, the U.S. Dept. of Education GAANN program, and the Drexel University College of Engineering. His doctoral research has focused on identifying and modifying natural polymer materials, fashioned into structurally-colored thin films, for binding aqueous heavy metals. Matthew is a member of the ACS, AAAS, Sigma Xi, as well as ASEE.

visit author page

biography

Michael Birnkrant Drexel University

visit author page

Michael Birnkrant received a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering on May 21, 2004 from Rutgers University. He will complete a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2008 at Drexel University. Michael is in his second year as an NSF GK-12 Teaching Fellow. He has also received funding from the NSF-IGERT fellowship, and the Drexel University College of Engineering Dean’s Fellowship. His doctoral research has focused on building three dimensional nanoscale structures by combining multiple nanoscale polymer processing techniques for use in organic photonic applications. Michael has a Engineer-in-Training License from the state of New Jersey, was a J.J. Slade Scholar at Rutgers and is a member of the ACS, as well as APS.

visit author page

biography

Jean Robinson Martha Washington Elementary School

visit author page

Jean R. Robinson received a B.S. and M.S. in Education from Penn State University. She has taught grades 3–8, including as a Math Resource teacher, in the School District of Philadelphia, and has been nominated as Teacher of the Year. She currently teaches the 6th grade at Martha Washington Elementary School, where she attended as a child.

visit author page

biography

Priscilla Blount Martha Washington Elementary School

visit author page

Priscilla Blount received her B.A. in Finance and Accounting and a M.S. in Education from St. Joseph's University. She has taught grades 1–8 in the School District of Philadelphia for the past 16 years. She is presently the lead teacher for math at Martha Washington Elementary School, and is a member of National Council for Teachers of Math.

visit author page

author page

Adam Fontecchio Drexel University

author page

Eli Fromm Drexel University

Download Paper |

Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using SimCity 4 Software as an Educational Tool to Complement Middle School Science and Mathematics

Abstract

SimCity 4 (Electronic Arts/Aspyr) is a popular piece of entertainment software that has great potential for application in an educational context. Although students regard SimCity as a fun and engaging game, it is also a powerful and sophisticated environmental simulator. In this project, students used SimCity to engineer and maintain successful rural, suburban, and urban environments around natural landforms. This project was carried out through an NSF GK-12 Fellowship, pairing graduate students from the Drexel University College of Engineering with partner teachers in urban Philadelphia middle school classrooms.

Through a series of lesson activities using SimCity software, students practiced and developed a number of science and math topics critical in the School District of Philadelphia 6th grade curriculum, including landforms, environments, and the use of models to predict outcomes. They applied math skills to better understand scale as a form of ratio, used charts, plots and data tables to evaluate trends, and balanced income with expenditures.

The success of this module’s activities was gauged by written and verbal student assessments before and after each of the three activity phases. In these assessments, students were asked to articulate their understanding of various natural landforms and environmental processes, as well as the roles engineers play in the design and construction of towns and cities.

Introduction

SimCity 4 is a piece of entertainment software, developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts and Aspyr Media. Since its early development, the SimCity series has garnered attention as an educational tool.1-4 In the course of this project, students were exposed to a wide variety of educational subject matter encompassing science, mathematics, geography, social studies and civics.

A module composed of three inquiry-based activities was developed around the SimCity software. This long-term project introduced students to the interface and mechanisms of the game, taught them to use terraforming tools to shape their landscapes with familiar and exotic landforms, and allowed them to develop towns and cities in their simulated environments. The students worked in teams to first generate a variety of landforms. Using the software’s terraforming and terrain design tools, they created mountain ranges, plains, canyons, river valleys, and other geological features for their land plots. While being introduced to the software and its terrain building tools in the first two activities of the module, the student teams were given civil engineering projects to accomplish. They were asked to evaluate the best location for their projects and to consider the balance of effects the projects would have on society and the environment. In the third activity of the module, students added a human component to their landscapes by constructing and maintaining population centers. Their objective was to design thriving villages, towns, and cities that adapted to and made use of the landforms present, while preserving as much of the natural environment as possible.

Cathell, M., & Birnkrant, M., & Robinson, J., & Blount, P., & Fontecchio, A., & Fromm, E. (2008, June), Using Simcity 4 Software As An Educational Tool To Complement Middle School Science And Mathematics Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/4121

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015