The Scramble for Africa is a simulation of the colonization of Africa from 1500 through 1900. Students take on roles of major European countries and are given a dynamic set of objectives as they take turns claiming territory and resources across the map. This activity was adapted from a paper-based lesson by Andrew Patterson.
Note: This activity is a gamified version of a tragic period of history. This should not be used with students unless you can devote sufficient time afterwards for a class-wide conversation that properly contextualizes the choices students made in the game and explores the true impacts of colonialism. You may also choose to provide some of this context up-front to best meet the needs of your students.
Colonization in Africa
Geography, natural resources and climates of Africa
Primary CT concept: pattern recognition. Students must plan where they want to claim territory over multiple turns in order to succeed, keeping track of where competing countries are moving that may block their paths.
Students will be able to
Explain the objectives of their assigned country in the Scramble for Africa
Understand how competition for land and resources led to the scattered layout of colonies in Africa
This activity assumes your students are familiar with the tragedy of colonization in Africa – the simulation itself does not adequately address the dire consequences and inherent racism associated with colonization.
Decide which students will be representing each team. You can run the simulation with anywhere from one to seven teams – the more, the better!
Create a new world code in the Scramble for Africa web app. You can share world- and team-specific links with your students, or simply provide the world code and assigned team to them to enter within the web app.
Suggested lesson breakdown
5-10min – students complete the first page of the handout, identifying their objectives throughout the game
50-100min – run through of the Scramble for Africa simulation. Each turn is time-limited, but the length of the game will depend on how many teams are playing.
5-10min – students complete the second page of the handout, asking them to evaluate their performance within the simulation
10-15min – a class-wide discussion about the tragic impacts of colonialism in Africa, pushing students to reflect on how their competitive nature likely caused them to make some abhorrent decisions during the game
Washington State standards
Understands how human spatial patterns have emerged from natural processes and human activities in the past or present.
Understands and analyzes how individuals and movements have shaped Washington State or world history.