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CD-ROM is a teaching tool for future home builders

A builders association gives educators an award-winning computer game that helps students learn about building homes.

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 27, 2002

Building a house isn't fun and games.

Or is it?

The National Association of Home Builders figures it can be.

The Washington D.C. trade association has released Building Homes of Our Own, an interactive CD-ROM game and teaching tool available for free to educators.

In Tampa, instructors at Erwin Technical Center, Ferrell Middle School, Carrollwood Day School, Gaither High School and several home schools have requested the CD, according to the national home builders group.

Augie Martinez, who has taught drafting and design at Gaither High School for 15 years, ordered the CD about a month ago after seeing a review of it in a professional journal. He plans to use it next semester with his second- and third-year students, many of whom plan careers in contracting, engineering or architecture.

"I want them to see all the different things that are involved other than drawing when you're getting ready to construct a house," Martinez says.

The object of the game: Select a lot, build a home that is sound, then sell that home to the best qualified buyer at a profit.

Building sites are in urban, suburban or waterfront settings. Throughout the game, players encounter obstacles and issues that test skill, patience and resourcefulness.

Players can elect to perform lab tests, conduct research or call upon special consultants and engineers to help them arrive at sound decisions that satisfy environmental concerns or nervous neighbors.

Attending a virtual town meeting or working within community planning and zoning laws are just a few of the challenges.

"We've got math, science, social studies, home economics, English, technology and even logic teachers who are using Building Homes of Our Own," says Robert Simmons, a Virginia builder who chairs the NAHB public affairs committee. "It gives teachers the flexibility they need to teach creatively."

Building Homes of Our Own is part of the NAHB's educational outreach initiative. The group distributed all 10,000 copies of its multimedia home-building game in six weeks and plans a second run.

Chicago-based developer Media Options Inc. designed the game, along with an advisory panel of educators and building industry leaders.

The program recently received a 2002 International Electronic Multimedia Award, which recognizes excellence in digital media content creation.

The CD-ROM comes with a 200-page Teacher's Guide that outlines activities and projects. Also built into the game: a 22-minute tutorial that introduces teachers and students to the classroom tool.

For more information on Homes of Our Own, visit

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