Creating an earthquake-resistant city

Affiliation: University of Thessaly
Resolution: Group | Duration: Two to four hours



The problem aims to build STEM skills among secondary education students by combining knowledge from diverse subjects for solving a real life engineering problem through a methodology that simulates the way engineers work in real world professional contexts. The students will be asked to build an earthquake-resistant city by deploying the eCity serious game. Through the game, students will have to think analytically and critically to provide the correct balance between an economic and social development of a city and the life guarantee of its inhabitants, by planning earthquake consciousness-rising activities for the people in the city, which will reduce the number of dead or injured people in a possible earthquake. The main goals of this activity are that students can learn basics of the city planning, from earthquake point of view, while raising awareness for earthquakes. It also aims at motivating students to work in groups and to awaken their curiosity. After solving this problem, students will also understand that science is present in the real life.

Learning Objectives

The main objective of this activity is that students can achieve some basic concepts of the earthquake protection, fault lines and building type while they are playing with eCity, without going in depth in any of the concepts and terms. The scenario starts with a city which has just been hit by an earthquake. Most of the buildings and roads have been demolished and the player has to create a city with a given budget and give housing to certain number of people in a limited time to complete the game. In addition to general working principles of the game like the budget, engineering rules, population rising activities etc. the player has to investigate the fault zones in the ground and the building types. These factors affect the survival of buildings and the number of dead and injured people in the earthquakes which continue happening in some intervals during the game. Learning objectives will change according to target students. For secondary school students they will learn main types of soils, buildings and will have consciousness about earthquake protection. On the other hand for engineering students these main titles will include specific information of their classes. For example for civil engineering students building types category can be very detailed or for geological engineering students fault and soil types will have many sub-types.


In the context of the activity the student plays the role of a city mayor. The mayor is asked to rethink the city's layout and to create an earthquake-resistant city. At the beginning of the activity the city has no inhabitants as a result of an earthquake that has previously struck the city. The student will need to apply an engineering mindset to build an earthquake-resistant city within specific time and financial constraints. The activity deplays the eCity game, which can be freely downloaded. It can be played in teams in a classroom. Teams will compete for the maximum number of residents that inhabit the city. During gameplay, students may face unexpected events, which encourages to think about real life issues In addition, students may run out of financial resources or time, which encourages them to contemplate working within constraints.