Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman Supreme Court Justice here in the U.S. She was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and she retired from the bench in 2006. Justice O’Connor’s appointment to the bench was transformative…three women have been appointed to the Supreme Court since her appointment.
As important as Justice O’Connor’s service on the bench was, some don’t know about the impressive work that she has done since she retired. In 2009, Justice O’Connor founded iCivics.org, an online, standards-aligned, civics curriculum whose purpose is to counter Americans’ declining civic knowledge and participation. Since its inception, iCivics has developed 16 educational video games, along with comprehensive teaching materials that can be used in classrooms.
I’ve played the online games myself and the program isn’t just for kids. I played one game in which I “helped” to make a Supreme Court decision about the first amendment, and another game where I had to make decisions about allowing people into the United States based on their immigration status. The games are informative, fun and really do make you think. I think these games are great for people of all ages and for Americans and non-Americans who want to learn more about how our government operates.
Using iCivics.org and all of its games and materials is free. iCivics is a non-profit and relies on fundraising for operating costs. In addition, donations are accepted on the website. And one of the really cool things that iCivics does is it allows players to donate the points they have earned in the games to organizations that are engaged in “impact projects.” Every three months, the organization that has the highest number of points receives a $1000.00 prize from iCivics. So not only do both kids and grown-ups learn from this site, they also have the opportunity to impact an organization whose mission they like.