Sailing around the world with John Cabot

10th October 1997 at 01:00
John Cabot and the Merchant Adventurers. CD-Rom for AcornMacintosh Multimedia PC; Pounds 40 ex VAT. SCA, PO Box 18, Benfleet,Essex SS7 1AZ.TelFax: 01268 755811. Age range: primary

To mark the 500th anniversary of John Cabot's historic voyage to Newfoundland, Anglia Multimedia has released a CD-Rom which aims to introduce you to the explorer and his world. This CD-Rom is targeted squarely at key stage 2, History Study Unit: Life In Tudor Times and contains biographies of 10 other related explorers and accounts of their voyages.

The task is to help John Cabot prepare for the journey by entering a number of interactive environments which must be explored. Clicking on the display board on the quayside reveals a documentary video about the 1997 Matthew project, named after Cabot's ship. This sets the scene for the historical part of the software.

The library contains information relating to different explorers via the bookshelf, the map chest and the globe. The chandler's shop introduces various navigation equipment required, like the astrolabe. Undoubtedly, the most challenging problem to be solved occurs at the grocer. Here, information about each item of food and drink is given and the task is to calculate as accurately as possible the amount of each item needed for a 90-day voyage with 18 crew. An on-screen calculator is available to aid in this two-stage calculation.

Finally, Cabot's ship, The Matthew, must be explored. With each activity you encounter in the simulation you must use your knowledge or logic to solve problems and gain the object or information. John Cabot is always on hand to help if required. Once the puzzle has been solved, success is logged on a progress screen.

John Cabot allows you to save your position in the simulation in order to return later and there is a link (in the library) to Anglia's World Wide Web site which contains additional on-line resources. Similarly, the education version includes a number of activity sheets stored on the disc. Lastly, a board game is available to simulate the trials and rewards of the voyage. The computer becomes a giant card dealer revealing at random a set of circumstances and your progress.

Overall, Anglia Multimedia is offering an impressive piece of software to support learning in history generally and the Tudors, specifically, placing emphasis on the needs and requirements of an early Tudor explorer rather than on the details of the exploration - although this information is available, too, should you require it. Thoroughly recommended.

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