green bar
logoheader center
spacer spacer Home > Curriculum > Simulations
CLE Curriculum: Simulations

The Creative Learning Exchange in a partnership with Forio has created a variety of online simulations that allow students to explore systems in real time. Please explore these simulations and provide feedback to help us improve your experience.

Complex Systems

The cause of the problem is within the system

Cause of the problem is within the system video.

Experiencing Ups & Downs Over Time:  Oscillating Systems Simulations
Sometimes it seems as though it's impossible to understand what's causing all of the "craziness" of life's ups and downs. Many situations in a variety of contexts display this up-and-down oscillatory behavior. A series of 19 lessons from the CLE allows exploration of different oscillating systems


Cause and effect are not closely related in time or space

POPULATION DYNAMICS: Connecting Past, Present, and Future Simulations

Cause and effect are not closely related in time or space video.

The four simulations of the Population Dynamics series have been designed to supplement existing high school history curricula and be largely self-directed by students outside of class time. They are intended to introduce students to a variety of systems tools (behavior-over-time graphs, stock/flow maps, models/ simulations) along with primary and secondary historical resources. This combination of tools offers students opportunities to reconstruct patterns of change in the past, based on structural relationships that continue to exist and influence the present and future. Each of the four simulations examines an important period of development in American history.



Dollars and Sense

Create a personal finance model video.

These lessons challenge students to use systems thinking and mathematical tools to develop a realistic and personal understanding of the dynamics of the economic system in which we live. 

Stay in the Black: Saving and Spending simulations (7 Lessons)

Our Interest in Interest simulations (8 Lessons)


For Younger Students

The In-and-Out Game (adapted from The Shape of Change)

Students explore what happens to the number of people on a subway car over time as they enter and exit at constant rates.  Students complete a series of challenges, see resulting trends, and transfer understanding to other similar systems. 

In and Out Game Simulation

The Tree Game (adapted from the Shape of Change)

Students explore what happens to the number of trees in a forest over time as a forester plants and a lumberjack harvests a certain number of trees each year. While playing the game, the class tracks the number of trees over time. Students can see trends and discuss what's happening to the forest and why, connecting it to real-world needs and desires for lumber and paper products. They can then run and discuss a second scenario that shows how that trend can be reversed.

The Tree Game Simulation

Infection Game (adapted from the Shape of Change)

Students explore what happens to the number of people "infected" over time. Infections can include the spread of an illness, the spread of a good idea, or the spread of kindness. Students can share other ideas during the conversation. Instruction can focus on health concerns, classroom culture, and/or mathematical patterns produced.

Infection Game Simulation

Making Friends (adapted from the Shape of Change)

Students explore what happens to the number of friends over time, given different scenarios for gaining new friends. Students can also explore what might happen if they lose friends. Instruction can focus on social aspects of making friends, the mathematical patterns produced given different scenarios, or on both of these areas.

Making Friends Simulation


For Older Students

Restaurant Management

Restaurant Management is a single player game that teaches the dynamic behavior behind managing a restaurant. Players will gain an understanding of why the managing decisions they make influence a restaurant’s reputation and the money earned, an understanding of why and how the decisions of others can serve as a benchmark and be helpful when making your own decisions, and that it can take time before you see the results of your decisions.

Restaurant Simulation

Hunting Season: Sustainability and the Tragedy of the Commons

Hunting Season is a combined single and multiplayer game that teaches the dynamic behavior behind the Tragedy of the Commons. Designed with systems thinking in mind, the game is split into a single-player game focusing on environmental stewardship and a multi-player game that adds a competitive component.

Hunting Season Simulation

Thinking About Drinking: What are the effects of drinking alcohol?

See what happens over time to one’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (or BAC) following the consumption of alcohol. This “system” involves three stages or flows: alcohol first enters the stomach, then is absorbed into the body, and finally is expelled. Each stage involves different amounts of time that are influenced by a number of personal characteristics.

Thinking About Drinking Simulation

Behind Closed Gates: Potential dynamics when one group or individual is given complete control over another

This lesson with accompanying simulation is loosely based on an experiment that was conducted at Stanford University in 1971. Phillip Zimbardo wanted to see how typical people would act if they were asked to take on roles of prisoners and prison guards for a two-week period. The experiment was stopped after only six days because of escalating, abusive behavior of the guards and concerns about the well-being of the prisoners. In the simulation, students take on the role of a social scientist, trying to understand how a similar situation (with guards having complete control over prisoners) can create specific human responses, such as fear, repression, and resistance. They can then compare this situation to a host of other similar situations, fictional or real.

Behind Closed Gates Simulation


FishBanks is an online multi-user simulation to explore the management of a marine fishery. The simulation, created through MIT, is available for educators to use at no cost.  Students experience the difficulties of managing a renewable resource, seeing how short-term goals can interfere with long-term success.  Each student team makes decisions with a goal of creating success for a fishing company. The tendency is for teams to overfish, not realizing the long-term problem until it’s too late to reverse the diminished fish population in time to save the fish or their companies from bankruptcy. 

Fishbanks Simulation or Download the simulation guide


Home | Contact | Register


27 Central St. | Acton, MA | 01720 | US