Survival Scenarios! NASA and Jamestown Education Module

“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”

-Frank Borman, Commander, Apollo 8 Mission

Scenario-based training is valuable (and fun!) and has been used by military and government organizations for centuries. This PDF Handout from NASA introduces participants (this can be an awesome family activity) to survival scenarios, including a realistic consideration of The Jamestown Settlement in 1607 and later considerations of an expedition to the moon. I recommend that this PDF be downloaded for personal archive of downloadable, printable, survival resources.

Example: Survival in Jamestown Scenario

You are a passenger on one of the three small, English, sailing ships captained by Christopher Newport in the spring of 1607. You are approaching the coast of Virginia after a long, wintry voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

At first, you explore up and down the James River in a shallop, or small boat. You had been directed by the Virginia Company of London to find “the true, most wholesome and fertile place” to settle. Finally, you pick the site of Jamestown because it appears defensible, has a deep harbor close to shore, and is covered with walnut, beech, oak, and hickory trees. On May 13, 1607, you are one of the 104 weary men to step off the cramped quarters of the three ships onto the swampy lowland. Fear of a massive attack by the Powhatan Indians makes the immediate construction of James Fort more important than building structures for housing. Soon, a triangular wooden wall, or palisade, is built to protect you and the other settlers against future attacks. By the end of June, when Captain Newport returns to England for new supplies, your settlement seems to be well established.

Suddenly, conditions in Jamestown change. Supplies begin to run low and food is spoiling. The weather is turning hot and conditions are very dry. Little or no rain has fallen in weeks, no wells have been dug, and you are forced to drink water from the swamps or river. This water not only carries diseases but is brackish water, containing about 5 times the normal salt one should consume. As conditions worsen, men are dying daily. By autumn, disease reduces the number of survivors to fewer than 60.

Imagine that you are one of the survivors. You must make some hard decisions in order to survive. As with survival of all living things, you must have food, shelter, and water.

You are challenged to choose items that will help you survive. On the next page, you will find a list of 15 items that may have been used in Jamestown during this time. Some of the artifacts have been found in recent archaeological digs.

Rank these items from 1 to 15 according to their importance to you and the other settlers. Place the number 1 by the most important item and continue numbering to 15, the least important. Beside each choice, explain why you gave each item the rank it received and how you plan to use the item to help you survive.

Once you’ve made your own choices, work with your team of settlers to come to consensus. It is a desperate time and everyone living in Jamestown must agree, not only about the value of these items but about how to use them, as well.

Download the entire Handout here


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