The Atlantic Slave Trade-Online and Hands On

Boulder, CO teacher, Molly Hayes, gives us her perspective on using CyArk's lessons in her fifth-grade classroom

by Molly Hayes and Kate Rambow
February 29, 2016

Molly Hayes and Kate Rambow are fifth grade teachers in the Boulder Valley, CO School District (BVSD). This is their fifth year teaching for BVSD. Molly and Kate attended the recent Impact on Education Workshop hosted by CyArk and Trimble and has helped to develop (and test!) exciting and interactive curriculum to teach the topic of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Molly is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity from the University of Colorado. 


Having the opportunity to use the tools and technologies offered by CyArk proved to be a memorable experience for our students. Not only were we able to help students make rich connections to Colorado’s social studies standards, but we were also able to tie in the mission of CyArk through themes in science.

The interactive map allowed students to engage in conversations about the impacts of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, while being able to see first-hand the geographical contexts in which these events took place.  We saw increased engagement from our students as they had the opportunity to interact with the 3-D technology and see history come to life in the classroom, as opposed to simply reading about it in a textbook.  

Students took part in a Digital Scavenger Hunt on the CyArk website which introduced them to the Atlantic Slave Trade and then explored how the combined impact of natural forces and human action can affect erosion and why it is important to protect significant historical sites like the Annaberg Sugar Plantation from these forces. We built models of the Annaberg Site using clay and experimented with forces like wind, water and exposure which was a big hit with students--particular the tactile learners!

Being able to provide our students, some of whom have never even left the state of Colorado, with the experience of traveling to locations associated with the slave trade was invaluable.  We look forward to finding ways to incorporate other projects on the CyArk website into our teaching in order to enrich our students’ understanding across all fifth grade subjects!

I was thrilled to see the students so reflective after our activity. Below is a word cloud including vocabulary from our students’ written reflections after navigating and exploring the interactive map and the Annaberg Plantation model on the CyArk website.

Words Students Associated with the Atlantic Slave Trade
Students build models of the Annaberg Windmill and test its stability under erosion
The class gathers for a Virtual Field Trip