Building on SimCity
Numerous related topics can be spun off from the SimCity core. For example, one year I taught a simultaneous unit on microorganisms which linked to the problems any town has in water treatment. Using bioslides from Connecticut Valley Biological, the children studied live water-based creatures. We used a projection microscope to watch their movements, including the bursting of "daughter" volvoxes from the parent sphere. We took a field trip to the town's sophisticated water treatment plant and learned about the role microorganisms play in cleaning town water. (We were able to identify the influx of the carrots from the lunch that they had just eaten at school.)
In another vein, my sixth-grade students were able to make graphs comparing the populations of cities around the world and to explore the concept of population density. The Internet has sites that give recent data which can be used for such projects. Equally interesting would be the graphing of the historical changes from rural to urban societies.
Literature is easy to connect to the concept of the city. The Cricket in Times Square and The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler are favorites. The travels of the characters are easily followed on maps of Connecticut and New York City. In the process, students are introduced to the Metropolitan Museum and the newly discovered Michaelangelo statue in the French Culture Embassy across the street.
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