I found something unique and fascinating as I searched for organizations that use role playing and simulations in education.
This is the KidZania experience. Kids come in, take careful instructions from their corporate bosses and then work in the pursuit of KidZos, which they put away in bank accounts so that they can come back and earn even more by putting in additional days of pretend work. Add in a Dilbert calendar and a mini-golfing bag and you’ve got yourself one great simulacra of the modern working experience. Currently, KidZania has locations in eight cities around the world including Tokyo, Dubai and Mexico City, with franchises planned for China, Brazil, Egypt and other countries.
KidZania provides children and their parents a safe, unique, and very realistic educational environment that allows kids between the ages of four to twelve to do what comes naturally to them: role-playing by mimicking traditionally adult activities. As in the real world, children perform "jobs" and are either paid for their work (as a fireman, doctor, police officer, journalist, shopkeeper, etc.) or pay to shop or to be entertained. The indoor theme park is a city built to scale for children, complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles, a functioning economy, and recognizable destinations in the form of "establishments" sponsored and branded by leading multi-national and local brands. Personal experience is a powerful learning tool. Through each job and activity, kids learn about how society functions, financial literacy, adult professions, team work, independence, self-esteem and real-life skills. Activities are completely hands-on to provide the most contextual and engaging learning experience.
From police officer to dentist and restaurateur, each KidZania offers NEARLY 100 role-playing activities in more than 60 establishments with a range of difficulty to meet the abilities and interests of every child. Kids work to earn kidZos, KidZania's own currency, so they can pay for goods and services in the KidZania city. Pilots navigate airplanes, television anchors read the news, police officers perform detective work and chefs cook up tasty food. KidZania is a complete city with a hospital, fire station, beauty salon, bank, radio station, supermarket, television station, pizzeria, theater, and much more. At two-thirds their actual size, all facilities are designed to be 'just right' for children. Getting started is simple: kids pick an occupation, learn about their job, don a uniform, and start EARNING AND SPENDING KIDZOS...and having fun!
"Zupervisors" are on hand to introduce AND provide support for each activity. Zupervisors are trained adults who guide and help kids accomplish their tasks as they work and play. KidZania's attention to professionalism and training has earned it the highest level of trust among parents, educators and community leaders as a facility where kids can have fun, exert their independence and be safe.
Role-playing is a universal form of play enjoyed by children all OVER THE WORLD. Role-playing is fun – and has very positive educational, psychological and motivational benefits. Psychologists, educators and play experts are extensively consulted during the development of every KidZania location to ensure our curriculum content matches school areas of focus: creativity, critical thinking, communication, confidence, and collaboration.
By blending reality with entertainment, KidZania provides an authentic and powerful developmental experience, preparing kids to understand and manage their world. Kids acquire real-life skills, learn about working and having a career and are introduced to the fundamentals of financial literacy. While children are having fun at KidZania, they are also learning socialization skills, mutual cooperation and respect. Their creativity shines, they learn independence, develop decision-making skills and participate with their community – all skills that they will need to succeed as adults.
This short article is worth a quick read.
How about a KidZania right here in Utah County? All we needs is a measly $20,000,000.
Wouldn't our Space Center fit right in with KidZania's concept? Imagine a few of our starship simulators in each location. Kids would be lined up and salivating profusily to get in and soar to the very furthest reaches of the known universe.
A Field Trip Enjoying Our Voyager Simulator Experience
The Future of Education
In my opinion, the Space Center's concept of mixing play with education in a simulated environment is the future of education. KidZania is just one more example of the concept in action worldwide.
Feel free to comment in the comment's section or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'd like to hear what you have to say.