Eric Nelson was a high school social studies teacher with a problem: his students were disengaged at a time when global competence matters more than ever. He wondered how he could get his 9th grade students to care about geopolitics.
While checking his fantasy football league and researching his players for the week, Nelson realized he was learning a lot about the NFL. “Why can’t all learning be this fun?” he wondered.
Nelson decided to capitalize on curiosity and turn his social studies class on to his new platform, Fantasy Geopolitics, a social learning game that follows countries and world leaders as they compete for world headlines
Popularly referred to as “fantasy football for NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies), Fantasy Geopolitics encourages students to enjoying learning by gamifying the news, engaging with global information sources, and providing relevant standards-based activities and resources from online.
After participating in Startup Weekend EDU in Chicago, Nelson discovered he had the most popular idea of the bunch. His team of developers figured out a way to automate the scoring system and the rest was history.
4.0 Schools was at the Startup Weekend event and encouraged Nelson to apply to theie Launch Program, designed for those committed to launching a new product, service, or internal venture.
Nelson was accepted because his idea was already out in the real world and had a high potential to disrupt education.
“Fantasy Geopolitics allowed me to assume my students actually knew what was happening in the world, so I was then able to scaffold and build upon those realities more efficiently in my other classes,” said Nelson.
Nelson says that the students became the teachers, inside and outside the classroom. To continue momentum, he has launched a Kickstarter campaign to keep growing and sharing the Fantasy Geopolitics platform with students and teachers. If funded, everyone on the wait list will get a chance to play as well.
With 21 days to go, 51 backers have pledged $4,856 of the $10,000 goal.
“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the support and help I’ve received from groups like Startup Weekend EDU and 4.0 Schools,” said Nelson. “My first visit to NOLA as part of 4.0 Schools’ Launch program was an incredible experience I’ll never forget!”
“Who Dat?!” Nelson continued. He hopes to be back in New Orleans soon.