Chefren's Pyramid (Software Review)
Karen M. Gibson
Chefren’s Pyramid: An Adventure in Maths
Windows (95, NT, 98, 2000)
Single Computer User $42
CTK Software, Inc.
9 Fernwood Ct.
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
The Swedish company Alega Skolmateriel AB publishes Pyramid Maths, two software programs that blend Ancient Egyptian culture with mathematics. Chefren’s Pyramid is the first of these two programs. (Footnote 1)
I discovered Chefren’s Pyramid while visiting the Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles web site . This site, developed by Alexander Bogomolny, covers a multitude of mathematics, from games and puzzles, geometry, and algebra to probabilities, math quotes, and impossibilities. The site also includes a math forum where you can ask questions relative specifically to the website or mathematics in general. If you want to know more about math, play with math, or look for math helps, this is a great site to spend some time at.
Since I found Mr. Bogomolny’s site so interesting, I was curious about Chefren’s Pyramid. Usually I do not play the software games that my children use, but I after watching them, I decided to try Chefren’s.
Chefren’s Pyramid is designed for children ages 10 – 14. I have not done a lot of geometry lately (figuring surface area, volume, etc.) and I have never been very adept at strategy games and puzzles (such as Tower of Hanoi) (Footnote 2), so I found the program to be quite challenging. When I mentioned I was having some difficulties with certain areas (imagine Mom finding a kid’s game difficult!), my thirteen-year-old son took it upon himself to help mom through the puzzle. I was glad he did, as we enjoyed working through the rooms together, and the areas that I found difficult (like metric) he was adept with, and vice versa.
The game begins by entering the pyramid at the bottom and working up the pyramid, room by room (there are more than sixty rooms). The mathematics includes mental calculations in arithmetic, approximations, diagrams, math games and puzzles, Cartesian coordinates, percents, number patterns, and basic geometry and algebra. The goal is to emerge at the top of the pyramid within the allotted time period of five hours. Each room contains help files that provide equations and hints for that particular room, although there were occasions where the information was not sufficient and we had to turn to other sources for assistance. Luckily, the game can be saved at any point; upon restarting the game, it will return to the room just below where you saved.
An added bonus is in the software’s Egyptian theme. Throughout the program there are video clips of Egypt and questions pertaining to Egyptian history.
It is important to note that the program uses the metric system for all measurements. This could create frustration for someone lacking at least a basic knowledge of metric measurement.
This software is a bit different from other math software my children have used in the past; it is not glitzy and colorful. The background music can become annoying, but the program does allow you to turn the music off. Also, I found the timed factor to be stressful – I was constantly looking at the time clock ticking away and feeling pressured to work faster and more accurately. Of course, that is probably the point!
If you are looking for a program that will challenge your children, require them to use some of those many formulas learned in algebra and geometry, and spend time practicing their computational skills, Chefren’s Pyramid will do the trick.