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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Observe the Supreme Court, Become President, Negotiate Peace with Online Games

Here are three games that can be used to teach the civics topics of how elections are conducted, how the Supreme Court functions and the complicated issues of the Middle East.

Supreme Court


Justices in the game Supreme Decision.

Here is a free computer game for teenagers created with the help of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor that helps explain what happens at the Supreme Court and its impact on the United States.

"Supreme Decision," the first of several planned web-based games, went online earlier this month as part of a project called Our Courts. In it, students can play a U.S. Supreme Court clerk helping a justice with a tie-breaking vote over a First Amendment case.

Backed by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and Georgetown University, the Our Courts project is designed to teach middle students. Check out Supreme Decision

The web site hosting the Supreme Decision called Our Courts has resources for teachers, a place for news items and another game called "Do I have a Right?" as well as a list of other civics related games. Read an article about the project. O'Connor touts civics lessons via online games

Presidential Elections


Each party (including a computer-generated third-party) 
has its own mascot.

If you want to give students the experience of running for President of the United States, one game that does a great job of explaining the process is eLection. The game requires a Shockwave plug-in. It was created by a project called Cable in the Classroom (CIC). CIC worked to create a free 3-Dimensional multimedia game in partnership with CNN Student News, C-SPAN and History to show the educational power of 3D learning (and to use as much cable bandwidth as possible.)

eLections is an online board game that demonstrates how broadband technology - with its capacity to deliver video, audio, excellent inter-activity, design and content - can support active, meaningful and memorable learning. The game was first created in 2004 but was updated in 2008 for the big US Presidential election. It is a great example of converting a board game (one based on the game Life) to an electronic board game. It is fun to play and is highly interactive. Teacher resources are available at the site (scroll to the bottom for a link.)

Middle East Politics


Balance the needs of the region to 
obtain peace in PeaceMaker.

Now that you are the President of the United States, you need to do some diplomacy. And there is no better place than in the Middle East. Try PeaceMaker for an understanding of the complex issues involved with this region.

According to the game's web site "PeaceMaker challenges you to succeed as a leader where others have failed. Experience the joy of bringing peace to the Middle East or the agony of plunging the region into disaster. PeaceMaker will test your skills, assumptions and prior knowledge. Play it and you will never read the news the same way again." The demo can be played for free and then a slight fee is required to download the entire game.


Additional Law Related Games


Check out these mini-games about the 
law at Law Focused Education, Inc.

The Law Related Education Department of the State Bar of Texas has a web site called Law Focused Education, Inc. with many mini-games that students can play to learn more about the law. From picking a jury to identifying which branch of government has which powers.

And if you want to learn more about the link between civics games and engaged members of society, check out this article. Video Games May Foster Teen Civic Engagement


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