The new SimCity video game is intended to help promote student engagement and encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

An unprecedented agreement between two influential foundations, leading academics, two global testing firms and the video game industry could redefine how schools teach basic skills.

Tinkering for the past several months at the Silicon Valley offices of one of the world’s largest video game developers, the alliance is pushing to develop materials based on off-the-shelf video games that will get kids ready for college and career success,” a key, largely unmet goal of the USA’s education system.

The nation is not producing enough well-rounded scientists, engineers and mathematicians for all the high-tech jobs expected to develop — an estimated 8 million in the next five years alone.

And school is boring kids to death.

In its latest report, Indiana University’s High School Survey of Student Engagement found that 65% of students are bored “at least every day in class.” One in six reported being bored in every class.

Into that chasm this week enters GlassLab (Games, Learning and Assessment Lab), an effort that envisions using video games to spur a new generation of students to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

Housed at the Redwood Shores, Calif., offices of video game giant Electronic Arts (EA), the team’s first effort debuts Tuesday with a free online community based on the newly rebooted world-building game SimCity, along with free lesson plans and an online teachers’ network.

In the game, players act as the builder and mayor of a fictional town, essentially creating the place from the ground up: They build infrastructure, industry and housing and try to attract residents. Once townspeople arrive, the mayor must scramble to keep them happy, productive and safe.

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