Resources for K-12 Education

Teachable Cambodia

General Cambodia Teaching and Learning Resources

Top Resource: CultureGrams–You probably already know that CultureGrams is a reliable way to access basic information about countries, including maps, images, videos, interviews, economic data and histories. To access the CultureGrams website, log in to your Seattle Public Library account and visit this page. Navigate to either the “World” or “Kids” version of the Cambodia CultureGram.

Suggested Activity: Data literacy: Use the “Build-Your-Own Graphs and Tables” tool to generate content applicable to your classroom. Try comparing Cambodia to the US or to the countries with which it shares borders: Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The data in the graphs and tables comes from the CIA World Fact Book.

Cambodia is the size of Oklahoma but at 12° north of the equator, it would sit at about the same latitude as Nicaragua in Central America.  In comparison, the southernmost point in the United States is at 24⁰ latitude, or twice as far north of the equator.

Language Resources

  • The national language of Cambodia is Khmer. For a brief history, see the SEAlang Khmer Project, part of the SEAlang Library established in 2005, with primary funding from the U.S. Department of Education.  The Library provides language reference materials for Southeast Asia.

Long before the rise and fall of the great mainland empires of Funan (ca. first to sixth century CE), Dvaravati (sixth to eleventh century CE), and Angkor (ninth to fifteenth century CE), Mon-Khmer languages were the lingua franca of Southeast Asia.  They are as key to interpreting Asia’s cultural, political, and economic history as Greek, Latin, or Gothic are to understanding Europe.

Ancient Empires and Mathematics

The doorjamb is on display at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. Photo credit: Shannon Bush

A broken doorjamb engraved with lines of Pre-Angkorian Khmer writing dated to 682-83 AD was found at a site on the Mekong in Kratie Province in 1891.  Part of the inscription contains a date—605 of the Śaka era—which comprises the first known material use of zero as a decimal figure.  The numerals are from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, the most common system for the representation of numbers throughout the world today.  First developed between the first and fourth centuries CE in India, the doorjamb proves it was in use among the Khmer two centuries before it was adopted by Islamic mathematicians (ca. 9th century) and at least 400 years before it spread to medieval Europe.

Top portion of doorjamb, showing inscriptions. Photo Credit: Shannon Bush

The use of zero can be a hard concept to understand. The idea of nothingness and emptiness has inspired and puzzled mathematicians, physicists, and even philosophers. What does empty space mean? If the space is empty, does it have any physical meaning or purpose?

Read more about the origin of the number zero here.

The Golden Age of Angkor

Angkor, the capital of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to the fifteenth century, was a major power center in Southeast Asia.  Located near Tonle Sap lake, it grew rapidly between 950 – 1150 to become the most extensive low-density, agricultural-based urban center in the world.  Famous for its temple complexes Angkor Wat (c. 1140) and Angkor Thom (c. 1200), it also featured a complex hydraulic system that relied on cooperation between communities for operation.  At its peak, as many as two million people may have lived there, or more than 5% of the total Southeast Asian population at the time.  The cause of Angkor’s collapse sometime between the 14th and 17th centuries is a subject of debate, but scientific evidence points to climate change—extreme monsoons interspersed with decades-long droughts—as a contributing factor.

Top Resource:  Virtual Angkor is a groundbreaking collaboration between Virtual History Specialists, Archaeologists and Historians designed to bring the Cambodian metropolis of Angkor to life. Built for the classroom, it has been created to take students into a 3D world and to use this simulation to ask questions about Angkor’s place in larger networks of trade and diplomacy, its experience with climate variability and the structure of power and kingship that underpinned the city.

Read more about Angkor and and the different factors leading to its collapse here. For a thorough examination of the climate factors contributing to Angkor’s downfall, click here.