Nation's Building News - March 21, 2005
Simulation Program Wows North Carolina Students

To say that 7th and 8th graders are a tough crowd may be an understatement. Luckily, Joyce Vukela-Mayer, a custom builder from Sherrills Ford, N.C. knew her audience and came prepared.

For a Career Day program at Mill Creek Middle School, Vukela-Mayer wowed a crowd of more than 75 students with a presentation of NAHB's education simulation program, "Building Homes of Our Own." Students assembled in a computer lab for three different sessions and were able to get some hands-on time with the program, testing their skill at selecting a lot, choosing a floor plan and dealing with meddlesome neighbors and a touchy town council meeting.

Vukela-Mayer rewarded the student with the highest score at the conclusion of each of her three presentations with a CD-ROM to use at home.

"Everyone was really impressed with the program," said Vukela-Mayer, president of JVM Homes, Inc. and a member of the Lake Norman Home Builders Association. "It's easy to use, fun and really captured the attention of the class."

The presentation was such a success that one teacher remarked that it was the best Career Day she'd been involved with. The cutting-edge program definitely reached students, who learned about the industry, career opportunities and the importance of financial responsibility. The students were so enthralled that 30 of them the next day asked their teachers how they could continue using the program.

And one of the middle school science teachers decided to build an entire program around the game.

"Building Homes of Our Own" uses simulation technology to teach middle and high school students about home building, while delivering key lessons in math, science, social studies and language arts. Developed in 2002 by NAHB with partners Freddie Mac and the National Housing Endowment, more than 32,000 CD-ROMs have been delivered to educators nationwide, reaching an estimated audience of nearly 2.5 million students, teachers and parents.

At the 2005 International Builders' Show in January, NAHB announced a donation from the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, which will support the development of a new, network version of the program that will be released next month. The new version will give teachers more flexibility in saving their work and make it easier for them to use the program in computer labs and classrooms.

The program is free to members of state and local home builders associations and classroom educators from www.HomesOfOurOwn.org.

If you are interested in designing an outreach program with your local schools or need multiple CD-ROMs, e-mail Kym Kilbourne at NAHB or call her at 800-368-5242 x8447.