Learning Goals, Target Concepts & Standards

Game learning goals

Fields of Fuel can support classroom discussions about sustainability with high school students in courses including Environmental Science, Biology, Economics, and Agriculture. Depending on how much time is devoted to game play and the types of conversations the teacher facilitates during discussion, the game has the potential to support students as they:

  1. Describe the key dimensions of sustainability within the context of bioenergy crop production.
  2. Identify ecological and economic factors that affect agricultural systems.
  3. Use graphs to make sense of long- and short-term trends in data.
  4. Explain the relationship between individual farmer management decisions and local ecological and economic outcomes.
  5. Explain the relationship between individual farmer management decisions and global ecological and economic outcomes.

Next Generation Science Standards

These learning objectives outlined above are specific to issues of sustainability and biofuels, but in doing so the game addresses several of the core disciplinary ideas outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards.

Table 1: Connections between Fields of Fuel and NGSS


Core Idea

Questions students can explore using Fields of Fuel

Life Sciences LS2.A – Interdependent relationships in ecosystems
  • What limits your farm’s productivity?
  • How do you know if your farm can sustain a given level of productivity?
  LS2.B – Cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems
  • How do choices you make on your farm influence the carbon cycle?
  • What choices can you make on your individual farms to reduce our overall Green House Gas (GHG) emissions?
  LS2.C – Ecosystem dynamics, functioning, and resilience
  • How do annual versus perennial plants affect biodiversity and ecosystem functioning on your fields?
  LS4.D – Biodiversity and humans
  • How does choosing crops that provide habitat for beneficial insects affect your crop yield?
Earth and Space Sciences ESS3.A – Natural resources
  • What are the environmental, economic, and social impacts of using only corn for ethanol production?
  ESS3.C - Human impacts of earth systems
  • What planting and management choices promote sustainable yields over long periods of time?

Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations: Fields of Fuel can be used to help students meet the following NGSS performance expectations for the high school level in life sciences, earth sciences and engineering and design.

H.S. Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems:

  • HS-LS2-4. Use mathematical representations to support claims for the cycling of matter and flow of energy among organisms in an ecosystem.

H.S. Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems:

  • HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
  • HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.

H.S. Human Sustainability:

  • HS-ESS3-2. Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
  • HS-ESS3-3. Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
  • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
  • HS-ESS3-6. Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

Engineering Design:

  • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • HS-ETS1-4. Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.

Educational "Big Ideas"

Fields of Fuel provides virtual environmental where students can explore and play with the ecological, economic and social outcomes of farming bioenergy crops for food and fuel.  They must interpret graphs, explain cause and effect relationships and uncover the underlying models that determine game outcomes form year to year. Depending on the course and teaching objectives, the game helpful for teachers working to address the following target concepts, topics and skills. This is a partial list. We encourage new and creative uses.

Topic areas



  • Sustainability
  • Agriculture
  • Soil Ecology
  • Bioenergy
  • Natural resources
  • Economics
  • Environmental Science
  • Sustainability
  • Economic-environmental tradeoffs
  • Supply and demand
  • Nitrogen cycle
  • Carbon cycle
  • Perennial vs annual
  • Water quality
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem services
  • Energy and net energy
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Interpreting graphs
  • Analyzing data
  • Evidence based reasoning
  • Systems thinking
  • Modeling
  • Argumentation