This is a great hook and introduction to get students interested in a unit on Exploration. Students begin by pretending to be a Portuguese merchant in the mid 15th century. Their goal is to reach the spices in India, but two things are in their way:
1)Mediterranean trade routes are controlled by the Italians and Arabs
2)The expanding Ottoman empire has cut off the overland trade route to Asia
Students then are asked to explain what their solution is going to be.
The lesson also involves examining the evolution of cartography over the course of 1500 years.