The Silk Road
Silk Road Choose Your Own Adventure
Jennifer Bottum & Doug Pilcher, Humanities, Rivendell Middle School
Can you survive the Silk Road?
After learning about the history of the Silk Road, students were given the task of creating a game that demonstrated the benefits as well as the dangers one of the world’s oldest trade routes. The game’s premise was based on Choose Your Own Adventure novels where players are given scenarios at each stop and must make decisions about how to proceed. Different choices lead to different outcomes. Groups were assigned a specific trade route along the Silk Road and were challenged to design exciting storylines and situations that real travelers may have experienced along their journeys. The students had to use their knowledge of Silk Road geography, trade goods, travelers, politics, and cultural practices to develop historically accurate game narratives. After playing each other’s games and receiving feedback, each group made revisions to their games in preparation for their exposition. The final product was a physical game board, representing a map of the Silk Road that spanned three classrooms. Students guided their parents and community members through their games to see if players could survive the treacherous road—and with some luck even make a profit.
Students experienced difficulty working in groups and navigating the process of creating a product that incorporated each other’s ideas and talents. However, the looming deadline to present their games to a real audience increased their motivation to problem solve and work through the kinks in their game design. We saw leadership and engagement emerge from students who hadn’t previously displayed these skills.
“In this project we created a game, but what we really learned is that the Silk Road was as much about sharing cultures and ideas as about making money.”