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Free Resources: Rand McNally's “Play the Election” Digital Learning Game and “Dear Mr. President” Essay Competition

Posted Aug 28, 2012
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Rand McNally has announced the launch of "Play the Election" - a free collaborative, online tool that teaches students about the 2012 Presidential Election and election process through games, resources and competition. And while students are learning about electing the President, they can write to him with their concerns in a new essay contest open to 7-12th grade students ages 13 to 20 years old, entitled "Dear Mr. President."

"Play the Election" is an engaging community-driven experience that helps students learn about the election process through a series interactive games and competition. Students predict the election winners for each state on an interactive election map, and compare their predictions to their class and the country to see where they rank. The program also includes 11 digital mini-games that delve deeper into influential and battleground states, like Ohio and Florida.

An accompanying online teacher resource center includes lesson plans based on the Common Core Standards making it easy to integrate the games and activities into the classroom.

Key Features of "Play the Election" Digital Learning Game

  • Interactive electoral map - Breaks down the Electoral College by state, details past election results, real-time polling data, election-related headlines, and more.

  • Digital Mini-Games - Students can choose from eleven different mini-games that reinforce key concepts of the election, delve deeper into the issues of influential and battleground states, and tie core civics curriculum to current events.

  • Standards-aligned lesson plans - Professionally-created lesson plans for educators that cover key aspects of the 2012 Election, the Electoral College, and major debates.

  • Student Access - Each student creates their own unique profile that allows them to save and edit their own electoral map, play and track their progress through the games, and see how their answers stack up against those of others in their class or the country.

  • Create Your Own Games - Teachers can create their own mini-games to reinforce key concepts or to teach new, related events.

"Play the Election" was created in collaboration with ImpactGames and is powered by ImpactGames' Knight News Game award winning platform.

"Dear Mr. President" Essay Contest

As America prepares to elect its President, Rand McNally and USA TODAY Education invite students in the 7-12th grades to tell our President what's on their minds via Rand McNally's "Dear Mr. President" essay contest, running through November 27, 2012. Maybe it's climate change, or the challenges of managing our scarce natural resources. Or is it health care, the cost of college, or possibly the economy?

As technology has made the world smaller, the ability to think critically about global and local issues has become an important skill for 21st century life. Rand McNally's mission is to provide students with a love for geography and discovery, and also to provide them with a platform to express ideas about the issues they believe will shape their own futures.

From the submitted essays, ten finalists (five from 7-9th grade submissions and five from the 10-12th grade submissions) will receive a three-day, two-night WorldStrides DiscoverNOW! trip for two to Washington, D.C. The trip is sponsored by WorldStrides, the global leader in accredited educational travel programs. In addition, the finalists will have their essays published in a "Dear Mr. President" ebook and on USA TODAY's Education website,

Two Grand Prize winners will be chosen, one from the 7-9th grade finalist entries and one from the 10-12th grade finalist entries. Each Grand Prize winner will receive a $5,000 529 Scholarship. The schools for the Grand Prize winners will each receive $5,000 of Rand McNally product.

Play the Election and more detailed information and complete contest rules for "Dear Mr. President" are available at and

Source: Rand McNally,

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