How does VOXPOP work?

A teacher uses a laptop or desktop computer to guide students through the role-play, playing videos on a Smartboard or projector, asking questions, leading discussion and calling votes.

Each role-play includes:

  • A class screen/projection that delivers historical context, tracks voting and guides play.

  • Facilitator controls that help the teacher guide the session.

  • Player screens that provide students with a bio, key info, and buttons to cast votes. 

How long does a role-play take? 

In person, you can run a role-play in a one-hour class period, or split over two 40-minute periods. If you're running VOXPOP remotely, we recommend budgeting a little more time because students have to be sorted into breakout rooms. 

How much set-up and prep is required? 

One role-play will require about 10-15 minutes of prep by a teacher: reviewing a guide about running VOXPOP, and setting up a session.  Everything needed to get up and running quickly is part of the information included with the overview and getting started package provided by VOXPOP. This is designed to be a convenient addition to the classroom with little to no technical set-up required by educators. 

How much does VOXPOP cost?

VOXPOP is free for teachers to use! This is possible thanks to an ED/IES SBIR grant from the federal government.

What are the technical requirements?

VOXPOP works on any device with a browser (ideally Google Chrome or Firefox) and internet connection. Teachers access the role-plays via the web and use a Smartboard or projector to facilitate the experience. Every student works with their own tablet, laptop or internet-enabled device.  


Requirements: Internet access, Smartboard/projector, and internet-enabled devices (PCs/Tablets/Phones).  The simulations are delivered to teachers using secure URLs. 

What does a VOXPOP role-play look like?

As students log in, the VOXPOP software divides them into several groups, e.g. Activists, Concerned Citizens, Public Officials, and Scientists in the AIDS Crisis role-play. Students use their laptops or tablets to view their unique bios, details about their groups, and the information they need at each stage of the role-play.

Each individual role-play is divided into several phases:

Welcome - Introduction to VOXPOP, historical background.

Values ​- Groups discuss their values and share their perspective with the town hall.

Issues ​- Overview of the three main issues causing the crisis.

Compromise ​- Committees vote on one proposal to send to a town hall vote.

Vote - Final town hall debate and vote on each proposal.

What Happened ​- An overview of what really happened.

Discussion ​- A facilitated discussion about the different viewpoints and how the crisis relates to contemporary issues.

Can you tell us more about your research?

During the 2020-2021 academic year, VOXPOP is conducting a study on usability and learning outcomes with researchers from NYU. ​

You don't have to participate in our research to use VOXPOP, but it is appreciated! Teachers sign up to playtest a single role-play over 1-2 class periods and give us feedback. We may sit in on your class (remotely), or we will send you easy-to-follow instructions and help get you up and running. We will then ask you and your students to complete a brief survey after you have done the simulation. 

You can read about our preliminary research here.

What content is available?

VOXPOP is developing several role-plays on a range of topics and historical moments inspired by the AP U.S. History curriculum, Common Core history and social studies standards, and state curricula. This core set of role-plays will be available to teachers for free starting Fall 2021.

The Shays Rebellion

Massachusetts, 1786. Riots are spreading across the state. Farmers and Revolutionary War veterans, unable to pay their debts and taxes, demand better representation. Bankers and traders in Boston, dedicated to building a strong state, argue that only responsible citizens deserve a say in government.

The Shays Rebellion role-play offers a deep dive into the early days of the United States and the issues that led up to the Constitutional Convention. 


It’s 1832 and South Carolina is in crisis. In 1828, the federal government passed the Tariff of Abominations: a tax that protects northern industry at the expense of southern states. Many argue that South Carolina must claim the right to nullify the tariff: declare it unconstitutional and ignore it within state borders.

The Nullification role-play immerses students in the conflicts that led up to the Civil War: the economic relationship between North and South, the growing abolition movement, and the struggle for power between federal and state governments.

The Dorr Rebellion

It’s 1841 and Rhode Islanders are fighting over who gets to vote. White, landowning men have controlled the government since before the Revolution. Now many are asking why more people don’t get a say.

The Dorr Rebellion role-play explores apportionment, constitutional reform, and the struggle to expand suffrage. It is being developed in partnership with the Rhode Island State House

The Pullman Strike

Chicago, 1894. America is in the midst of an economic depression. Factory workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company, unionized under the American Railway Union, demand a greater say in their working conditions. 

The Pullman Strike role-play immerses students in one of the defining labor conflicts in U.S. history. What is the proper balance of power between employers and their workers?

The AIDS Crisis

It's 1986 and America is facing a deadly epidemic. A group of doctors, researchers, health workers and federal officials have gathered to create a battle plan against the virus. 

The AIDS Crisis role-play asks students how a society should fight an epidemic. What is the best way to keep people safe? How do you balance personal liberties and public health?

And, currently in development, a role-play about the Civil Rights movement.


Role-playing experiences give students a chance to augment their civic knowledge and apply important "Four C 21st Century Skills" of Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity. Students share knowledge and collaborate to create a more complete understanding of a historical moment. VOXPOP provides a valuable opportunity to debate ideas and develop critical thinking skills in a safe environment, which are vital skills in civic literacy and in interpersonal interactions both in and out of the classroom. 


​Also, not to be forgotten, VOXPOP is fun!

Who created VOXPOP?

VOXPOP was created by Gigantic Mechanic through a 2019 ED/IES SBIR Award. Gigantic Mechanic has been building playful live-action experiences for schools, museums and companies for more than 10 years.