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What it is: Energyville is a game sponsored by Chevron.  In the game, students have to provide enough power to meet the energy demands of a city with a 5.9 million person population.  As they play, they must keep the city prosperous, secure, and clean.  The energy decisions that students make for the city in 2015 are based on current lifestyles and the projected energy demands and costs for developed countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.  The Energyville game environment is a lot like SimCity in the way that students build and maintain the city.  Students begin by dragging energy sources to the city to bring it to life.  Students can choose from biomass, coal, hydro, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, solar, and wind.  As they add energy sources to the city, they can observe the impacts on the economy, environment, and security of the city.  The goal is to keep the impact low.  There is a comparison chart where students can view the impact of the different energy sources on the environment, economy, and security to aid them in their decision-making.  As students move their mouse over the different energy sources, they can read about that energy source in the Energy Advisor panel.

How to integrate Energyville into the classroom: Energyville is an excellent simulation game that helps students to experiment with energy sources.  They are able to see the way that their decisions directly affect people and the environment.  Students can see how some energy sources may have a low impact on the environment but are high in cost or impact security.  This is a great way for students to weigh decisions and defend their choices.  Set students up in a computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  Give students a set amount of time and see which students can get the highest score (lowest impact) on their city in that time.  Afterward, discuss the best and worst energy sources, and have the highest score walk the class through their strategy.  If you don’t have access to a lab, you can send students to Energyville in small groups as a center activity on the classroom computers.  You could also play as a whole class with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

Tips: There are two levels of game play.  In the first level, students make decisions to meet the city’s energy demands in 2015.  In the second level, they must make additional decisions to prepare for the energy demands of 2030.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Energyville in your classroom.

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  1. Thank you for this post which show that it is possible to game in the classroom.
    I would like to add that it seems very important to discuss with the students about the models wich are implemented in the game : model of city (here it is a developped city, obviously the model of the american city), model of society (it seems that the goal of the society in the game is the economic development in a liberal society), because these models influence the decisions of the player, and determine the consequences of those decisions. It would be different for example in a dictatorship, or in an african city, and if you discuss the models then you can compare to reality.

  2. I love simulations that put students in real world situations. They can learn about energy but also learn how decisions aren’t always black and white and there may be several consequences resulting from a single decision.

    Other than fitting in with an environmental unit, teachers could also use this as part of a reading study of cause and effect.

  3. Cool site. These simulation games are a lot of fun. I’ve used a similar game called ElectroCity ( with my students and it went all right. It’s a bit of a time commitment to get much accomplished, but it does illustrate the complexities of planning a city and incorporating renewable energy sources. Energyville looks similar – I will have to give it a test run.

  4. It is vital that youngsters become aware of the impact of their energy use on the environment and this seems like a great game to do just that.

  5. Emily, I love them too! I think they are fantastic for helping students think critically and consider different positions. Your idea for using this to teach cause/effect is excellent! Love that!

  6. ElectroCity is great! I have posted on it in the past and used it with my students. It is a time commitment! I ran into that same problem. It is hard to get through an entire game in one sitting (especially when you only have students 35 min once a week!)

  7. Yes, that is a great point Caroline! It is important to talk about what kind of city and society the simulation is built on. That could bring on great discussion and deeper thinking.

  8. Yes! Simulation games are engaging and fun for students and make them think about their choices in a way that they don’t by reading about energy in a textbook.

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