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BLACKOUT: Teaching Students about the Power Grid through Experiential Workshops and Video Gaming

Jake Nease, Thomas A. Adams II

Abstract


BLACKOUT! is a turn-based video game that introduces undergraduate and high school students to the types of power generation available in most electricity markets. The workshop portion of BLACKOUT! introduces students to the advantages and disadvantages of power generation by coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind and solar. The students then take the role of electricity providers in an open market. Players build power plants with capital and operating costs, estimate renewable production per turn (each turn is one hour of “real” time), and bid to sell their capacity to fulfill the grid demand, which changes every turn. The player that sells the most power by the end of the game is the winner. Survey data collected from high school students show significant improvements in perceived knowledge about the power grid after playing. BLACKOUT! is publicly available for classroom use and is accessible via http://psecommunity.org/LAPSE:2018.0136.

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