Classical foundations

12th January 2007 at 00:00
A virtual romp through the cultural and culinary delights of ancient Rome is helping pupils acquire a taste for history and mathematics, writes Stephen Manning

After a pleasant meal of grilled swan stuffed with crow, perhaps with a tasty side dish of dormice, why not pop outside to use the vomitorium and make room to do it all over again? After all, it was a normal evening out for the Romans, as we learn in a primary resource which blends history with mathematics for key stage 2. The interactive CD-Rom called Roman Adventure takes pupils through activities and games set in the town of Tempestratis.

The 11 activities are linked to learning objectives in the national numeracy strategy, with three difficulty levels - slave, citizen or senator.

They include counting votes in a local election, sequencing numbered tiles in a bath house and learning about length, area and volume by planning buildings. Divisions and fractions are demonstrated through a dinner party at the governor's house where you have to divide food between the dignitaries.

Players can also sell food from a thermopolium, a takeaway in a market stall. We learn that the Romans effectively invented the takeaway, as everything in Rome was made of wood, and nobody dared cook in their own houses for fear of fire. In this activity, the food is mild fare such as olives and figs.

The more gruesome items on the menu are reserved for the user guide, "Everyday Life In Roman Times", a weblink which provides more historical background and activities involving Roman numerals and testing your knowledge of Latin words.

The program is by Storm Educational Software, based in Shaftesbury, Dorset, previously best known for the Smudge the Spaniel series, a dog who guides four to 11-year-olds through numeracy, literacy and science activities The price for a single user is pound;25.52 plus VAT; site licence for unlimited number is pound;205 plus VAT. It is available as a CD-Rom and there are plans for an online version. See Roman Adventure demonstrated at Stand R80 the BETT Show, Olympia, London, until

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