This week students in my year 7 Geography classes have been learning about planning and managing a local area by playing the iPhone app game “Runthattwon”. In Run that town you act as the planning minister and approve or reject projects and proposals. To assist in making decisions you have access to a positive and negative opinion about the individual projects and the passion levels of the population for the projects as well as census data and news headlines. You have clout and money both of which are used to approve projects, maintenance on infrastructure and projects and resolve incidents.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released, Run That Town, a free iOS strategy game using real 2011 census data. The blurb for the app doesn’t really explain how engaging it is. “Take control of any neighborhood in Australia. Use real Census data to discover who’s who in your area, and make decisions that will sway popular opinion in your favour. Choose from hundreds of projects for your town – from the practical to the preposterous. What kind of leader will you be? Will you be treated to a ticker tape parade, or chased out of town by an angry mob?”
My students loved it they were having some great conversations about the decisions they were making, how they were making them and how they could or couldn’t please the populations of the area in Australia they chose! Students also used a todaysmeet as a back channel to note their progress, how they were playing, what advice they had for others, how they made decisions etc.
Below are some of the Todaysmeet comments students shared about their observations and opinions on building and planning. We then had a discussion about planning and the role of planners and government in the design and logistics of planning in cities. Following on from our lesson on Run that town students are now creating their urban area they would like to live in. Some students are using the apps simcity, minecraft, eden etc others are using paper to design a new urban area that they would love to live in. We talked about layout, sun, gardens, footpaths, parking, open space, houses – low density and high density living, other buildings like shops and businesses that make an urban environment livable!