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WhyPower: STEM Serious Games Creating Career Pathways

Whyville and Numedeon (please find also Serious Games Helping Kids Understand Food Labels) have announced a new project WhyPower: a middle school program and supplemental curriculum that teaches the math and science of energy. The platform for instruction is Whyville, the learning-based environment for teens.

WhyPower teaches core academic math and science content, and also career content, all matched to standards, helping middle-students to understand why math and science matter and encouraging them to plan ahead and take challenging STEM courses in their high school program.

Students learn about: fractions, ratios and proportions, unit conversions, graph reading and data interpretation, measurement, mental math, rate of return, and problem solving. They also learn about the science of the energy industry: kilowatts, kilowatt-hours, R-Values and housing materials, Energy Star ratings and appliance selection, and sources of power including coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar and wind energy.

Students in WhyPower are in effect doing virtual jobs. In each lesson, students earn career badges for the jobs they accomplish! Students earn "Whyville clams" for completing jobs, and build up a "clam salary" tied to their demonstrated knowledge and accomplishments. WhyPower can integrate information about local education and career pathways: students see the math and science classes they need to complete high school, and details of the local college programs they can enter.

Whyville’s Energy Serious Game: WhyPower

WhyVille has now its own power grid! As part of the WhyCareers program, Numedeon is “electrifying” Whyville with a power grid that uses traditional and renewable energy sources. 

Students manage the power grid to select the right mix of energy sources. They will build homes in Whyville, observe and measure power use and form good energy behaviors and habits.

Finally, they explore the math, science and career topics related to energy. Just like in real life, success in WhyVille is not pre-programmed! Students’ skills, initiative, creativity and teamwork determine the rewards they receive in WhyPower.

About WhyCareers Energy - Education and Career Pathways from Middle School to College

WhyCareers is designed for use in 8th Grade Career Portals, math and science classes, and other middle school classrooms. Students use WhyPower to explore energy issues and learn about reliable and responsible energy sources.

WhyCareers is in use in 6th, 7th and 8th Grade classrooms  

Integrated into WhyCareers is the exploration of real, local career pathways that run from school, through local high schools, and into Alamo Colleges and other Texas college programs. Under the guidance of teachers, students learn what classes they need to complete in high school, explore college programs, and communicate with the teachers, program directors and program recruiters for these pathways. The project team works with pilot schools to define these career pathways.

About Project Partners and Sponsors

DaVinci Minds and WhyVille have partnered to develop the WhyPower Project. 

DaVinci Minds wants middle school students engaged in rigorous and relevant learning that intentionally leads to high-tech careers. Their technology platform is Whyville, the learning-based virtual world for teens and tweens, founded in 1999, with 7 million users served and 50+ activities in math, science and other areas. Whyville is based on the pedagogy of constructivist, inquiry-driven learning. DaVinci Minds core competency is the development of cross-discipline curriculum, including the integration of career education and connection to real, local careers. Through the motif of virtual world careers, they connect middle students to local career pathways and high tech jobs.

WhyCareers is funded by the Texas Workforce Commission through funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. It is provided at no cost to Texas participants for the two-year period of the grant.