Why Didn't China Discover the New World?

This Why Didn't China Discover the New World? activity also includes:

Who was Zheng He and why haven't we heard of him? Scholars consider the question as they compare his vast expeditionary force to that of Christopher Columbus. Young historians then ponder the intersection of science, economics, and politics using the records of these men. The lesson includes a comparison activity and reading materials with comprehension questions.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Use case studies to ask learners why China did not explore the Western Hemisphere
  • Pair with one or more related lessons on Columbus and the Columbian Exchange to build a unit around the economics of exploration
Classroom Considerations
  • 17th lesson of a 23-part series exploring world history from the Council for Economic Education
  • Materials presume students have some familiarity with China during the late Middle Ages
  • Lesson provides all necessary background information on Zheng He
  • Lesson plan is easy to adapt to a variety of units
  • None
Common Core