"Homes of Our Own" transports young teens into the home building process beginning with planning and ending with the sale. By Gary Garczynski

Computers have changed much more than just the way we do business, communicate with one another, and play solitaire.

They have had--and will continue to have--a dramatic effect on classroom instruction and the way our children learn. Teachers throughout the country are increasingly using computers to help teach a wide range of subjects. Nationwide, the ratio of students to instructional computers was five to one in the fall of 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Building challenge

To take advantage of this exciting trend, the NAHB is developing an innovative computer-based educational program to provide junior high/middle school students with an understanding and appreciation of the challenges involved in home building.

This fast-paced, interactive CD-ROM game introduces teens to the entire home building process. Players work with a budget and a deadline to design and build a home and find a buyer. They solve real-life problems, make important decisions, and use time and money management skills--all in a fun game environment that reinforces the math, science, social studies, and even language arts lessons taught in school.

Gaming pro

With this new educational tool, available for the 2002#173;2003 school year, kids can get a first-hand look at the building process and a better understanding of the effort required to build a new home. That's because Media Options, a highly regarded consulting firm that has been creating, distributing, and marketing educational products for 20 years, developed the game. Media Options tapped a wide range of resources, including the NAHB staff and members as well as educators. It also held focus groups with students to determine how to tailor the game to their interests and needs.

Photo: John Hansel

Educator endorsed

Equally important, each phase of the game is aligned with national content standards, and the game will provide educators with cutting-edge technology that addresses national standards and assessment. That means that the game, which has already been endorsed by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, won't sit on classroom shelves collecting dust because it doesn't meet teachers' needs. To help teachers make the best use of the game, the program includes a comprehensive teacher's guide and is staged with a 30-minute orientation beginner game level and two higher skill levels. This enables teachers to create different types of learning experiences with ever-increasing challenges.

Enormous potential

I'm very excited about this new program. It has enormous potential to reach the young people who are the home buyers of tomorrow and teach them what it takes to build a house. It also highlights the entrepreneurial aspects of home building, demonstrating the risks and rewards in a very realistic way. Hopefully, it will even encourage some youngsters to seriously consider a career in our exciting and important industry.

The NAHB will be promoting the program extensively in the coming months, and we're also counting on members to help introduce it to local schools and teachers. You can preview the game at www.HomesOfOurOwn.org, and I urge you to take a look at it and then refer your local educators to the site to pre-order a copy.