Welcoming Students To The Global Economy Through Interactive Internet Learning


Background: Simpolicon© is an educational simulation that has been used in high school classrooms for 35+ years in several different iterations. Initially students used paper and pencil, and all transactions were managed manually by the teacher. Later it was programmed for the Apple IIE, then the Apple IIGS, and finally for the MAC. It is now a cloud-based internet simulation. At its inception, Classroom Computer Learning Magazine awarded Simpolicon an "outstanding" designation. The judges said, “Simpolicon© is an incredibly complex and fascinating simulation of the economic, political, social and cultural development of nations. Students balance such factors as national goals, economic necessities, interest group demands, political needs, natural disasters and fortuitous events. Using the computer’s unique capabilities to the fullest, this program successfully integrates diverse socioeconomic and political concepts and skills. An entire social studies course can be planned around it.

What is Simpolicon© ? It is a simulation of economic development, environmental sustainibility, and international political relations in which teams of students (typically 2-3 on each team) work together to simulate running a country which exists in the real world. It is a realistic portrayal of the complex process and problems of national economic development.

Simpolicon© participants fill the roles of the economic and political leaders of their respective nations. The simulation starts with each country being given a limited amount of productive resources such as of land and mineral deposits, unskilled labor, and hand tools. The students must make decisions on how best to use their basic resources. Their goal is to create and maintain a stable, secure country with a well-balanced and sustainable economy.

The challenge is to provide for their country’s unlimited economic wants easily and efficiently through advanced economic production. At the same time, however, they must limit pollution and be prepared for natural disasters, military conflicts, and other real-world issues.

How long does the simulation run in the classroom? It generally takes about 10 hours of internet access, either in the classroom and/or at home. This would represent 5 to 10 simulated years, or 50-100 “real world” years. In addition, teachers may want to add in mini-lectures, research, or analysis of the issues brought up during the simulation.

What is the object of the simulation? The object of the simulation is to teach today’s students, who will become tomorrow’s world leaders, how to make good decisions that will help their country and the world develop in a sustainable way.

This is done by giving the students the opportunity to make choices. They must decide what to produce and in what sequence; who should be educated; how to keep their population healthy and safe; what trades to make with other nations; how to limit pollution and conserve resources; how to resolve disputes and maintain peace; and how to prepare for natural disasters.

What are the learning objectives of the simulation? There are a multitude of possible learning objectives, some of which depend upon the choices made by the students; however, at a minimum, the students will have the opportunity to learn each of the following:

  • ATTITUDES. Students will gain insight to the problems and process of sustainable economic development and will have a chance to reflect on and clarify their own values.

  • SKILLS. The simulation puts a premium on the following critical thinking and problem solving skills:

  • Setting goals
  • Making decisions
  • Interpreting and using data
  • Accepting consequences
  • Weighing alternatives
  • Adapting to changed circumstances
  • Reaching consensus

  • CONCEPTS. The simulation develops some or all of the following concepts, depending on student ability and teacher/facilitator objectives:

  • Economic Concepts
  • Absolute advantage
  • Economic growth
  • Acquired advantage
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Allocation
  • Factors of production
  • Balance of trade
  • GDP
  • Barter
  • Infrastructure
  • Bilateral trade
  • Labor
  • Birth Rate
  • Land
  • Capital
  • National wealth
  • Comparative advantage
  • Opportunity cost
  • Consumer goods
  • Producer good
  • Death rate
  • Scarcity
  • Depreciation
  • Social overhead capital
  • Division of labor
  • Scarcity
  • Political Concepts
  • Conflict Management
  • Militarism
  • Consensus
  • Nationalism
  • Decision-making process
  • Pluralism
  • Majority/Minority
  • Political spectrum
  • Power distribution
  • Social Concepts
  • Achieved status
  • Sanctions
  • Ascribed status
  • Social class
  • Elite
  • Social mobility
  • Norms
  • Stratification
  • Roles
  • Values

  • Open/Download Simpolicon© (.pdf) Original 1983 Brochure