Cathy Morrison spent the summer travelling around Scotland - without having to leave her home. Which, as she admits, was probably a good thing for maritime safety...
Perhaps it was all the hype of the Tall Ships' Race at Greenock, perhaps it was meeting friends who had gone sailing on the Clyde, or that half-hour pedalo ride in Crete, but I must come clean and admit that during the summer I got hooked on Let's Go Sailing, one of the programs on SCET's Let's Go: Modules 8-10. As Katy, my trusty guideinstructormentor, reliably kept informing me: "Oh no - another maritime disaster! You should practise your navigation skills before you set out again".
I ran aground again and again. I dealt with engine trouble, I dealt with fog and I even picked up an injured worker from an oil rig - unfortunately I ran aground before I could get him safely to port. In the light of all this, I have decided I am no loss to the coastguard, but if I took up sailing I could definitely keep them busy. This CD-Rom - available in both Mac and PC format - is very much an updated version of the Pathway to Bearings programs developed for the BBC Micro in the Eighties. On the disc are three choices - Let's Go Flying, Orienteering or Sailing. All deal with directions, compass points and bearings with varying degrees of difficulty in a motivating way. The CD covers aspects of level D and E maths (Position and movement), although there are links to environmental studies too (Understanding people and place, and Making and using maps).
Let's Go Flying is the simplest. Pupils are asked to identify a bearing or direction from a blip on a radar screen from a choice panel which can be withdrawn as confidence grows.
Let's Go Orienteering requires pupils to navigate round an orienteering course, using bearings while working against the clock. Ordnance Survey symbols are revealed at each correctly reached point. Using this before an outdoor activity trip would certainly sharpen up skills in "cunning running".
Let's Go Sailing challenges you to sail around Scotland, using navigational bearings and a practical understanding of scale in order to produce accurate distances between the ports you visit.
I particularly enjoyed the realism of sailing from Port Ellen to Lochboisdale, although there is also an imaginary island. There are three options in this module, the first using bearings only, the second involving bearings and accurate distances, and the third adds unexpected moments of danger thrown into the scenario. If you manage any option successfully, you are piped ashore with a sailor's hornpipe - which is a wonderful feeling for even the most seasoned sailor, I can assure you. All the modules incorporate simple teacher controls and on-screen assistance with the "anglefinder" tool. The user guide has full notes and copies of the activity sheets and graphics, also in the resources folder on the CD.
Katy and her activities may seem to be rendered in basic graphics compared to what some students will be used to, but all the modules would consolidate previous concepts taught in class and I highly recommend them.
Cathy Morrison is deputy headteacher at Kilbowie Primary, Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire