Earth Day Should Be Everyday – Planet Green Game
Many blogs I follow usually provide resources for special days of the year the day before, or on the special date. Which is why I thought I’d run a small series of posts over the next week focused on Earth Day so there’s plenty of time (27 days as of this posting) to prepare how best to turn your students into ecologically minded citizens.
Since ideas on how best to protect the environment can sometimes be a difficult debate both politically and personally, I’ll try to be as neutral as I can about the Planet Green Game that was created by Starbucks and Global Green USA. I played through a bit of it, and it’s a really addicting game, rewarding you with (or taking away) points based on how much carbon you put into the environment. As you start the game, it’s evident that decisions you make early on affect your score, as choosing to ride your bike around town will automatically improve your score over choosing the family sedan or SUV. I stuck with a hybrid car, and had to make a trip to the gas station to fill up. BAM! Instant negative points for using fossil fuels. But as soon as I pulled into the service station, I was asked if I wanted to tune up my car and have the emissions checked. I figured I had the time, so I pulled into the service bay and was instantly given positive points for having my car checked regularly to prevent excess carbon emissions.
While that may sound like a simplified example of how our daily decisions affect global climate (it is), the depth of the game grows the more you play it. As you travel around town you’re presented with challenges to reduce the use of energy in your home and school, and are even rewarded for watching information about more global solutions for reducing greenhouse gases. The game grew pretty addictive once I had taken a short energy reducing quiz at the school, and was immediately rewarded with a visually upgraded school building (green roof and solar panels replaced the cracked tar on top of the building). I was then given extra bonus points for reading information and looking at pictures of actual “green school” renovations and construction taking place in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Being a person that’s HUGE on having intrinsic and extrinsic rewards while playing an edugame, I loved watching my score jump, and seeing visual changes to the digital map, as I was learning how large organizations in addition to myself could help reduce energy use. Granted, the game may be so addictive that students simply play it for the points, and don’t actually glean any information presented to them, but this would make an excellent extension and or engaging way to culminate a project for Earth Day. Definitely an edutainment adventure for middle school and high school, but with it’s blatant over the top message of “reduce and re-use” without necessarily providing costs, time, and energy that has to be invested to make the changes, it would be hard to use this as THE center piece of any learning revolving around climate change. However, that shouldn’t stop any educators looking to provide a VERY well done interactive experience to introduce students to concepts of reducing our energy consumption from simple changes in our daily lives (turning of lights and unplugging chargers when not in use), to more community based action.
Oh, and the music isn’t half bad either. I let it play in the background during one of my classes and the kids really enjoyed it! 🙂
Other Posts in my Earthday Series: