German and International Track Students Explore the Silk Road through Interactive Mapping

Sixth graders in the German Track and International Track came together for a social studies unit on China and the Silk Road trade route. Ms. Seydel (German Track) and Ms. McCandless (International Track) collaborated with Ms. Sinclair (GIS Design) to use dynamic mapping technology as a tool for student-driven inquiry of how trade influences society.


“We’re better teachers when we try things together. Kids are always excited to interact with students outside of their track” - Ms. McCandless


Through this interactive inquiry project, students were challenged to look for clues that took them beyond static maps and books to explore history in a much more meaningful way.


  • How long did it take to travel the Silk Road (by camel)?
  • How would that affect the price you set for trade?
  • How did people communicate with people from other parts of the world?
  • What types of non-tangible items were exchanged (religion, ideas, information)?
  • How does this compare to today?

These two classes then had a follow-up activity to close out the week, with each student bringing two examples of non-tangible trade items to discuss and simulate trading!