SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge!

Game review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! Game Poster Image
Environmental-issues sim teaches real-world solutions.

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The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about many different environmental issues, including how solar panels can reduce pollution, how much waste water larger ships might produce. and how to reduce the pollution of a town while adding jobs. Kids learn by reading, making wise decisions for the environment, and using evidence to solve problems. SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! was designed as a learning mod for SimCity, and successfully shows kids how environmental issues and city planning are interrelated. 

Positive Messages

Kids learn how to solve pollution problems and see first-hand the consequences of not solving them. Kids also learn how to be creative and positive when applying textual evidence. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

As mayors of towns in need of environmental overhauls, kids assume responsibility and must make the right decisions for townspeople and the environment.

Ease of Play

With extensive tutorials, SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! eases students into how to play. Once acclimated, they're able to quickly navigate each scenario. 


To create more jobs and generate happiness among a town's inhabitants, players must "zone" commercial areas for shopping and business. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! puts teens in the role of a mayor whose tasks include a variety of real-world environmental and pollution challenges. Progressing through six missions, players solve problems by reading textual descriptions of an environmental issue and applying correct textual answers. Players also engage with causal loop diagramming and large-scale city planning in their virtual towns. 

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What's it about?

SIMCITYEDU: POLLUTION CHALLENGE! features six missions that explore the effects of pollution and other environmental issues on cities. Each mission involves three to five "challenges." Based on the SimCity engine, the game presents real-world environmental challenges, such as how to create more jobs without causing more pollution and how to get all kids to school by planning the most efficient use of bus stops.

Is it any good?

SimCityEDU: Pollution Challenge! is a fantastic platform for kids who love simulation and city-management games and especially for those who have a passion for environmental issues. Kids can practice problem solving, systems thinking, and managing informational diagrams. Even better, they get to see how various forms of pollution affect the real world. Kids face increasingly difficult challenges (packaged in missions) that require them to create flow charts, solve environmental problems via textual evidence, and manage a town from a top-down perspective. The interface elegantly displays the overall pollution level, population happiness level, electricity coverage, and business traffic, helping kids make decisions and plan their cities.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about environmental strategies. What are the roles of technology, engineering, and planning in reducing human impact on the environment? 

  • What are some trade-offs associated with commercial growth and pollution?

  • What are the complex needs and impacts of living in big cities?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: reading comprehension, text analysis, using supporting evidence
    Social Studies: global awareness
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, problem solving, thinking critically
    Responsibility & Ethics: learning from consequences, making wise decisions, respect for others
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid, Free (Free for individuals; $25 to $1750 for class/school license packs)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: GlassLab
  • Release date: November 7, 2013
  • Genre: Educational
  • Topics: Science and Nature
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Rating
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tackling global, environmental issues

Themes & Topics

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