More and more problems related to engineering can be identified in our cities, many of them related to pollution and waste management:
· Reducing industrial pollution. The student receives information on the characteristics of the generated waste (solid, liquid or gas) by the industry.
In all cases nature and amount of the residues will be provided. In the case of water waste, volumes and composition. In the case of gases, approximate composition and amount (related to the city population). The student will know what the approved parameters are for the spill. With this information, the student must select he appropriate treatments to make the emissions comply with the environmental regulations either elimination the contaminants or recycling them.
Dissaters happen and cities should be prepared to manage them in appropriate way. Lets see what can be done in E-city:
· Protection against earthquakes. Students will have a map including three different soil types. Land has different prices so the student will choose the land, type of building and floors. Choosing the correct soil type will not be enough to build strong buildings because they will have to use the budget effectively and select the construction type, number of floors correctly, give housing to more people as possible and increase the general population. As students will also create hospitals, schools, industries, commercial areas etc., his/her decisions on economy will affect the budget. And with more budget, he/she will be able to create more protection for the city. Students will learn main types of soils, building structures and will have consciousness about earthquake protection and effective use of budget.
In any city we can found many engineering developments related to the provision of utilities: energy, water, etc. In E-city we also have taken into account some of these problems:
· Power distribution. All the city elements must be correctly powered in an effective way. The simulation engine has different power plants and distribution plants with different prices, involving high, medium and low voltages. Players must ensure that there will be no breaks of distribution through redundant connections. There is also the possibility of changing the energy requirements in terms of hours and events. (For instance commercial and industrial areas will require more energy during the working days). The problem can include pollution caused by the power stations.
In the first stages of the eCity project partners have been involved in the proposal and refinement of a set of problems to be fitted into the simulation engine. Not all the problems were suitable for development. Therefore, in order to provide a reusable and sustainable solution, a collection of problems was proposed sharing a general common structure with the main objective to cover many engineering fields. This newsletter introduces some of the problems considered in E-City.
Students could play Ecity games in different ways. These are some proposed scenarios.
Individually. From home or directly from the classroom, the student has to face lonely to problem resolution. He/She needs to make the whole process with only the help of the teacher, which will be available to guide and orient. The student must identify what is really the problem, break it down into smaller problems and try to go looking for solutions gradually. The student should also seek information and learn to relate this new information with what he/she already know.
ECity aims at being integrated into a clear pedagogical methodology, PBL oriented, to ensure that maximum relevance is given to the learning process, and not the technology. This pedagogical methodology includes a full and complex process. It starts with the teacher in the early work stages and ends with the students fully engaged, self-evaluating and interacting.
The eCity project is interested in the adoption of an innovative pedagogical methodology that supports the learning process both in engineering academic organizations and in secondary and vocational schools. The methodology is focused on two different complementary approaches:
· Engineering students themselves will develop new challenges and problems. This way they will be directly applying the concepts learned at higher education.
· They will be solving the set of problem-developed challenges plus the new ones with the support of other (secondary/vocational) students. By doing this they will scaffold their engineering learning and develop other skills like leadership, group work and collaboration.
The use of games in education is not new. During the last years concepts such as game-based learning and “gamification” have been developed and experienced in different contexts. Therefore, in order to attain the goals of the eCity project a search of existing projects was conducted to perform an analysis of best practices about the use of games in PBL and engineering education. As a result, a relatively large variety of games was found, from city simulators, e-health games, games to teach programming, games to improve teaching practices, etc. Next sections include a summary of the main best practices related to the use of games in PBL and education. These best practices are taken into account for the development of eCity games.