After completing units of study on the Renaissance and the Enlightenment periods, with particular emphasis on mercantilism and exploration, students worked together in groups to form trading companies, purchased supplies to outfit an expedition to the new world, and founded a colony that met six criteria.
Minecraft play was completed in survival mode, with monsters turned off. After initially purchasing some supplies before the voyage, students were required to build out their colony using the natural resources available at the colony site.
In this summative unit, students used Minecraft to
- explore life as a merchant and learn the origins of capitalism and a market economy
- discuss the importance and impact of a trade economy
- recreate one of the great voyages of discovery
- develop a colony that survived, and hopefully thrived in a new world
- uncover how important the scientific revolution was to the success of the age of discovery
Points earned were determined by how successfully trading companies were at establishing a colony that meet the following criteria:
- at least seven complete buildings with descriptions, including a church and religious affiliation
- a stable population determined by having all company members survive the 5 day lesson
- the establishment of a profitable economy met by students manufacturing or obtaining items to be sent back to Europe that generated at least 250 gold coins of value when traded
- obtaining new knowledge in the form of an invention that could improve life or speed acquisition of material items of value
- establishing a trade network with the local villagers
- discovery and process of items of great value that were in high demand for trade like cocoa beans and sugar cane.
In addition, companies were required to work under a charter of their own creation to guide their exploration and acquisition of resources and each period developed a “Bill of Rights” that all colonies had to follow.
1. Students began the unit working in teams (trading companies) to develop a plan for colonization and the establishment of a chartered trading company.
2. We went into Minecraft where I had set up a large-scale port representing the old world where they were able to purchase both soft and hard goods that would meet their objections and colonization goals.
3. They were teleported to a colony site and survival mode was turned on. Each period had their own site to work with and there were 5-6 teams represented in each period. All colony sites were of the same biome with similar resources.
4. Students spent the next 5 class periods establishing their colonies and working toward meeting their company objectives and assessment criteria. I monitored and award grade points.
5. At the end of the unit, building was disabled and we toured each colony and reflected on how successfully or unsuccessfully each colony was and what the key challenges were and how companies overcame them.