Lately I’ve been learning more about education and how kids are much better at learning through self motivation and curiosity rather than pushing them to learn a subject. One of the most recent articles that I read on this was from Wired. In the Wired article, they discuss how placing kids in a room with just a computer and just simple instructions on how to use the computer, along with an observer to ensure safety, will result in the kids learning things like DNA and English.
In the spirit of this, I’m collecting ideas of things I can point my daughter toward so that she learns things through discovery and her own curiosity. Today I was remembering when I used to play Lemonade, aka Lemonade Stand, on the Comodore 64 in my “computer science” class and thought my daughter would enjoy playing Lemonade. I did a quick Google search and it lead me to OMSI’s (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) website where they have two games, Lemonade Stand and Get Real.
Lemonade Stand is a game where you setup a lemonade stand and each day you have to determine how much you will charge per glass and how many pitchers you will make. Depending on the level you select, easy, medium or hard, you also have to read the newspaper to see what the weather is like and how much it costs to make each pitcher.
This is a great game to teach kids the basic math skills of running a business, such as profits and losses. Kids will have to use analytical skills to determine how to react to the changes in weather and pitcher price in order to maximize their profit and minimize their losses. They’ll learn that opening a stand during bad weather can lead to losses and to exploit opportunities where the weather is hot and the price of a pitcher is low.
I believe this is a great game to start kids off with. Even at age 6 my daughter was able to understand the principles of the game and learned how to maximize her profit.
Get Real is a game that I had never seen, but I had known about when I was in high school or even earlier. Get Real is a game of life set in the time period of just when you are starting your career. You can choose 3 different pre-defined characters or build your own character. Each character has a specific level of education, student loans, career (with salary), type of residence, type of transportation and desires in life. With the “build your own” character you get to choose which characteristics you want your character to have and goals of that character. All characters have the goal of saving $2000 over the year.
Each month you get a deposit in your bank account with the net earnings from your salary after taxes, rent, transportation and student loans are taken out. With each month comes different opportunities and challenges that you have to respond to, such as paying for tickets to go to a concert or working overtime. If you choose to purchase something you can do so with either cash (taken from your bank balance) or credit cards (with a limit of $3000). If you pay by credit card then each month you have to pay the finance charges until you use your bank balance to pay off the card.
The point of the game is to complete all of your desires including saving $2000 over the year. What’s cool about the game is that it appears to reward you the more you save and punish you the more you use credit. This game is very powerful in how it teaches you that saving money can provide better opportunities while using credit cards can trap you. For this reason, I believe every kids that is at the junior high level or above should play this game. Actually, we should probably require Congress to play this game also 🙂