The summer sun streams into a Tandem Friends School classroom as a couple dozen children of all ages and from all over the world sit in a circle around what looks like an oddly placed shelving unit. With nametags around their necks and folders in hand, the kids listen carefully to the instructions from John Hunter, who also made himself a space in the group of chairs.
But there are no books or artifacts on the three tiers of clear Plexiglas. Instead, there are thousands of small game pieces representing militia men, airplanes, tanks of oil, and natural resources. Turns out, it's a game, a learning tool, so that students around the world can get a feel for what it's like to run a country.
"They become more well-equipped to deal with the unknown future we're trying to prepare them for," Hunter said.
Hunter, originally from Virginia, has the general framework of the game laid out, but the kids make up their own rules along the way. The "World Peace Game" has them split up into groups, all with different positions within their assigned country. Then they're responsible for negotiating with the other nations and maintaining order while dealing with countrywide crisis, natural disasters, volatile stock markets, and political sabotage.
Hunter says people often underestimate what kids can grasp when they have a hands-on way to learn the concepts.
Hunter explained, "We find that they can do almost anything, especially when we facilitate a situation where they can stretch their limits and go beyond their supposed potential, the vocabulary, the international diplomacy, all of that sort of. All of it comes naturally."
Hunter says seeing his invention go international has been far more than he ever thought possible.
Teachers are also watching the "World Peace Game" being played throughout the summer, in hopes of learning how to incorporate meaningful and interactive lessons into their own curricula.
The game's journey was also made into a documentary called "World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements". For more information on that movie and the game itself, click here.
Dannika Lewis joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in June 2010. She started her ventures in broadcast news at Elon University where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story