I am doing a unit on Town Planning for MYP Design with my Grade 7s and I could not be more enthusiastic about it. Town planing may not sound like the most exciting unit, but believe me it is!
Students will be designing their own towns and will have a lot of criteria to meet. They will have to look at various city systems, from buses to recycling, as well as the needs and wants of the residents, they will decide on their town's main industry, have to make sure there are enough jobs, homes and schools for everyone and they will have to take into consideration the town's age and geographical features. I think students will find the most fun part will be naming their town and adding in all the little details. I am pretty sure they will start wanting to name their towns after themselves and will probably add in far too many leisure and entertainment centres and will of course focus on the needs of young people, but will develop their cities into a great space for all!
We are going to compare an old and new town, (probably an area of London, compared to Milton Keynes) and we are going to look at Celebration, Florida, a town created and originally maintained by Disney! Studio 360 from PRI and WNYC produced a fantastic podcast with an episode called "American Icons: Disney Parks". In this they study Celebration and speak to some of the residents. The podcast itself is wonderfully informative and beautiful to listen to, (as it is full of great sound effects and edited wonderfully), so I will have to use the Celebration section with the students.
Students are most excited about the tools we are going to use, Minecraft and SimCityEdu! Students will be able to design their finished town on Minecraft, (some will opt to do it on paper), and will also produce a poster/leaflet to promote their town! Throughout the start of the unit students will also complete challenges on SimCityEdu, to get them to understand the different requirements town planners and councils must take into consideration when planning and running a town.
We started on SimCityEdu yesterday and they loved it! The game is easy to set up and navigate, but still challenges the students. It also teachers them valuable lessons, like how to create an efficient bus service, while still looking, feeling and sounding like a normal video game. Yesterday students completed a challenge to create the most efficient bus service for their town. All students completed the challenge, with varying levels of success, (measured in bronze, silver and gold medals) and every single student went on to repeat them game to try and create an even more effective system!
GlassLabGames provide great teaching resources for SimCityEdu, not only telling you how and why to play the game, but giving you a range of activities to do before and after the activity. Usually I ignore these sort of resources, as I often use tools and games not in the way they were intended, but these were perfect.
Please watch my video, as I explain what we did and how. This is such a great game for students and I encourage you to try it out too!
P.S. In the video I said Grade 8, but meant Grade 7!