By Tanner Higgin, Graphite
Environmental education for most adults used to mean learning a little bit about recycling and planting some trees on Arbor Day. We didn't delve into ecology as much as we skimmed the surface. But things have gotten more complex since then, and the topic of climate change has brought environmental education to the forefront.
At its best, environmental education gets students grappling with big, cross-disciplinary issues like sustainable design and renewable energy. Students think critically about environmental and ecological systems; they diagnose problems, and speculate about (or maybe even create) solutions. And to that end, here are a few games to help students dive in.
This app provides an overview of environmental issues, particularly pollution, for younger students. It doesn't dig into systems thinking as much as the other games on this list, but it still does a good job of introducing ideas. Students not only learn about these issues, but must find solutions, helping them see how it's up to us to cultivate a healthy environment.
Enercities is a little more sophisticated than Little Green Island. It's also free and available online, giving teachers a plug-and-play option for classrooms. While it looks familiar to players of other SimCity-style games, the twist is that Enercities emphasizes the importance of sustainable planning as the key to success. Students must strike a balance among economy, ecology, population growth, and quality of life while learning about resource scarcity and green city planning.