Online game lets students run a county
County government can be a difficult subject to teach elementary and middle school students, but the Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo) has found a way to make the subject more youth-friendly: it made a video game.
The online game and curriculum, created by Washington-based non-profit iCivics, is called “Counties Work.” It targets students in grades 6 through 12, teaching them about the important role and functions of county government by letting them run their own county, according to NACo. “This is a great opportunity for students to better understand the programs and services that counties provide,” said former NACo President and Tarrant County, Texas, Judge Glen Whitley, who led development of the game under his “County Government Works” NACo presidential initiative.
While playing the game, students pretend to be county officials responsible for providing services, dealing with resident requests, setting and raising revenues, and working within a budget. The students also learn about the various services provided by county departments — such as road maintenance, law enforcement, courtroom and jail services, parks and recreation, and library services — while having to make tough spending and tax levy decisions while facing re-election. A curriculum and webquest also have been developed to assist teachers with preparing lessons on county government.
iCivics is a web-based education project, founded by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in democracy. Along with “Counties Work,” other games on the site cover the U.S. Constitution, the courts and the federal government. iCivics has representatives in every state to promote the games and curricula to teachers and educators.
Play the game on the iCivics website.