This past summer, we announced the addition of Budget Hero to the math and social studies sections of GameUp. Developed by the Woodrow Wilson Center, American Public Media and 360KID, Budget Hero challenges players to balance the federal budget. Throughout the game, players make policy changes that affect the budget deficit/surplus, the size of government as a percentage of GDP, the national debt as a percentage of GDP, and the projected year in which the budget “busts.” While experimenting with budget cuts and government investments, students can identify budget priorities that they find interesting such as green initiatives, health and wellness, energy efficiency, and more.
The response to Budget Hero has been overwhelming. The game developers report in a recent press release that the game has been played 1.3 million times through August 2012, with 75 percent of players playing a complete game! Additionally, almost 20,000 comments have been submitted to the developers through the game, with the majority of commenters saying it changed the way they think about the federal budget.
Now there’s a special election edition of Budget Hero available to illuminate the budget impact of policies championed by President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney as well as those related to the impending “fiscal cliff.” The updated version contains 27 new policies in all, including the Ryan Medicare and Medicaid Plans; Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages; and Changing Distribution of Social Security Benefits.
You can use the election edition of Budget Hero for middle school and high school math or social studies classes. Our Budgets, Comparing Prices, and Money movies can support students in learning the necessary concepts for successfully playing Budget Hero. Be sure to check out our lesson plan that includes tips and tricks for playing the game and links to additional resources that will help teach students about the federal budget.