Company: Knowledge Matters, Inc., 85 Woodland Drive, Florence, MA 01062. Phone: (413) 587-9917; Fax: (413) 584-8485; Internet: www .knowledgematters.com.
Price: $195--Five-user license. $395--Lab license. $595--Site license.
Audience: Middle school, grades 5-8.
Format: CD-ROM with instructor's manual.
Minimum System Requirements: A computer with a 500-MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, 50 MB of hard disk space, Windows 98/NT/2000/Me/XP or Mac OS X 10.3 or later, an SVGA display, a CD-ROM drive, and an Internet connection and browser.
The browser should be Flash-enabled; a free download is available at www.adobe.com. The Flash plugin is used with training videos available online at www.knowledge matters.com/vhvideolinks.
Description: Virtual History--Ancient Egypt is a computer simulation designed to allow students to experience life in the Egypt of 4,000 years ago. The program lets a student take on the role of a village leader who must help provide the basic needs of food, protection, and shelter for the population. As the simulation proceeds, additional tasks and industries are added, such as mining, boat building, and pyramid construction. The program is accompanied by built-in assessments.
Installation/Access: The CD-ROM prompts the user in the installation process. A three-character activation code is required; the code accompanies the manual. This code also can be obtained from www.knowledgematters.com/ activate. I had no difficulties installing the software. Installation/ Access Rating: A
Content/Features: Virtual History--Ancient Egypt is a three-level computer simulation that lets a student become the leader of a village located along the Nile River in Egypt's early days. The program is intended for a week's use at the end of a unit of study on ancient Egypt. The materials in the simulation and the accompanying teacher's manual are keyed to state standards and provide activities in social studies, reading, and language arts.
Student decisions made in the simulation determine the fate of the village and its villagers. To begin, the student is assigned tasks and must garner the workers and the materials needed to meet the required goals or risk killing all of the residents of the village.
The virtual leader must secure food through fishing efforts, as well as planting and harvesting grain. In addition, bricks must be made to build houses. As each task begins, the student is presented with a short reading followed by a three-question quiz. The simulation can't be continued until the student answers the questions correctly; the answers are taken directly from the readings.
After success at Level 1, the student is challenged in the next level to maintain two separate villages as the society expands. The second village has the added features of copper mines, trading possibilities, and boat building, as well as efforts related to the continued basic needs of food and shelter. Level 2 also requires the student to build a fort to protect the village inhabitants from attacks by marauding neighbors. At this level, the readings and quizzes continue to form a part of the simulation.
Level 3 marks the expansion of the society once again and introduces pyramid building, quarrying, papermaking, and a scriptorium where scribes prepare documents. The activities of feeding, sheltering, and protecting the inhabitants are also continued in Level 3.
In total, there are eight three-question quizzes per level of simulation. Users must get all three of the quiz answers correct before they are able to resume the simulation. Misspellings will result in wrong answers on the quizzes.
The information is engaging and relevant to the task at hand. A reading and quiz about field irrigation, for example, would occur just as a student selects that task for one of the villagers.
The question screen pops up in front of the text. …