Welcoming Students To The Global Economy Through Interactive Internet Learning


Q: What does Akwaaba mean?

A: In the West African language of Twi (pronounced "chwee"), akwaaba means "welcome."

Q: How did the foundation get started and why?

A: The Akwaaba Foundation was incorporated as a California non-profit educational foundation in 2007. It was started to help students around the world learn how to make good decisions that will ultimately create an environment of sustainability and peace. The Foundation came about after Denney Daetz developed and used an educational simulation called SIMPOLICON© in his high school classroom for 25 years. His students showed great enthusiasm when participating in the simulation, and over the years, Denney has been encouraged by numerous students, parents, colleagues, and business people to make SIMPOLICON© accessible on the Web for students around the world. In 2005, Adriana and Bill Chiocchi, the parent of one of Denney’s students, Alex Chiocci, refused to take “No” for an answer. They offered significant assistance in bringing this about. That is when and how The Akwaaba Foundation was “born,” and Denney has worked on the process of giving this simulation to the world of education ever since. Our first major goal is to make SIMPOLICON© available for free, through the internet, to students and educators around the world.

Q: What is SIMPOLICON© ?

A: SIMPOLICON© is a computer simulation where students act as leaders of different nations around the world. Their objective is to develop their nation in sustainable ways. During the simulation, each country uses its natural resources for development and/or international trade. The students feed their citizens, provide them with education of various levels, use their citizens who have basic, advanced, and/or graduate-level skills to develop agriculture, manufacture necessary products, build national infrastructure projects (such as schools, communications and water systems, hospitals, roadways and airports), and conduct international trade. Throughout the simulation, students interact with each other, as they would if they were actual national leaders. Sometimes they develop coalitions; sometimes they declare war on other countries; sometimes the pollution they produce is so great that the world suffers, and then they must deal with that outcome in a responsible manner. Nearly every “real-world” scenario that can be imagined has occurred during the simulation over the 25 years it has been used in high school classrooms. The time that elapses during the simulation is a five year period; however, that time span can be achieved in a matter of days. At the end of the simulation, there is a debriefing session, usually conducted by a teacher/facilitator for the purpose of examining lessons learned and opportunities missed.

Q: When did Daetz create SIMPOLICON© and why?

A: Daetz's inspiration began during the time he served in the Peace Corps (1968 - 1971) in Ghana, West Africa. During this time he taught in the classroom and saw great potential in students; yet because they were living in a third world country, they had little or no opportunity to benefit personally, or to allow the world to benefit, from their intellect and capabilities. In Ghana, Daetz saw first-hand how the economic theories that he had learned (as an undergraduate at Yale University and as a graduate student at Stanford University) affected the everyday lives of the citizens. He determined then and there to do something that would help "to change the world in such a way that more human potential was realized and that countries, be they large or small, could develop in sustainable and peaceful ways that would be most beneficial for their citizens and for the world." In 1979, a few years after returning from Ghana, Daetz's simulation idea became SIMPOLICON©: Simulation of Political and Economic Development©.

Q: What is the developmental history of SIMPOLICON© ?

A: In 1979, it began as a paper and pencil simulation with a teacher doing many manual processes. Since then, Denney has spent thousands of hours redesigning SIMPOLICON© into a computer-based learning experience, programming it for the Apple IIE and Apple IIGS, reprogramming it for the MAC, and even selling it to other schools and educators. Ultimately, over 750 copies of SIMPOLICON© were purchased by various educational institutions in 46 states and seven foreign countries.

Q: What is the current status of the reprogramming project?

A: A small team of Educational Technologists at Columbia University, Teachers College, is now reprogramming SIMPOLICON©. Beta testing is planned for fall, 2012.

Q: Where are you getting the funds for reprogramming SIMPOLICON© ?

A: Private donations, all 100% tax deductable, have been our only source of funding so far. We have benefitted greatly from ???

Q: Do you plan to offer more educational software?

A: Yes! Denney Daetz, who designed SIMPOLICON©, has already completed the design of ???