23rd March 2001 at 00:00
JOURNEYS IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE. The British Museum Press in association with Channel 4 Learning. CD-Rom pound;24.99.

This CD-Rom has so many good qualities that I could become a convert to simulations. It is technically impressive and clearly owes a lot to the computer games that so many pupils enjoy.

Children can explore ruined sites all over the Roman Empire. The graphics are attractive, with the map of the Roman empire clear and readable, but looking appealingly old. The author has also thought about how to capture the imagination of key stage 2 and 3 pupils.

The main body of the material is organised around journys in the Roman empire. For example, in the Merchant's Tale, pupils have a trading budget of 2,000 denarii to buy goods and trade them in far-flung corners of the empire, facing all the vagaries of ancient business along the way. Tools such as the handy notepad encourage users to jot down key events and write them up in a diary. It also stores visual images.

Sensible, down-to-earth teacher's notes provide helpful advice and suggest realistic extension exercises.

There are few CD-Roms like this one, which makes the expertise of top archaeologists exciting and accessible to younger students.

Ben Walsh

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