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When It all adds up

Maths Workshop. CD-Rom Pounds 30, fromBr?derbund Software, PO Box 63, Hartlepool TS25 2YP.

Br?derbund is well known for multimedia software, especially the "Living Books" such as Arthur's Teacher Trouble. The company claims Maths Workshop is the first to be developed specifically for the UK market It is Br?derbund's first single-subject educational multimedia program and is aimed at ages six to 12. Areas covered include fractions and spatial awareness.

The animation and sound are good; Polygonzales, the female character who introduces the problems and gives help, does not have an American accent. However, there are indications the software may not have originated here; one question asks how long it takes to watch a basketball game on TV.

It is possible to vary the difficulty of many of the questions and the help facilities are comprehensive; a face yells "Poly" very loudly when a child first clicks on it to access help and Polygonzales comes running. Some of the best features are the picture puzzles. The simple ones involve piecing together a dissected picture. At a higher level, they require "polyominoes" to be fitted inside a frame to create a photograph.

The emphasis throughout is learning through entertainment and the activities are well designed to give children, possibly as young as pre-school-age, practice in the basic skills.

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