Fifth-graders in Kelly Hynes’ social studies class had to choose: pack more lumber or more ballast for a transatlantic voyage aboard a 17th-century ship?
Students took on the role of Dutch settler Peter Minuit Nov. 5 when Kalmar Nyckel Foundation Assistant Director of Education Emily Skinner visited Love Creek Elementary as part of the class’s study of Delaware history.
Skinner tasked students with choosing the people, supplies and trade goods to load onto the Kalmar Nyckel for Minuit’s 1638 journey to found New Sweden in present-day Wilmington.
“Your goals are to survive the trip and make a profit by trading beaver pelts with the Leni Lenape,” Skinner said.
Separated in small groups, students received a tub containing model ships and supplies like vegetables, iron goods and bricks needed for trade or to establish a colony.
Trade items like glass beads, copper pots and duffel cloth were assigned a value in furs. To make a profit, students had to pack enough trading goods to exchange for 1,000 beaver pelts, which were in high demand in Europe at the time.
They inventoried all items and evaluated what to bring and what to leave behind. By balancing survival needs with trade essentials, all of the student groups packed their ships with enough supplies to survive the journey and trade for more than 1,000 pelts.