- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2000

One of the field trips I anticipated most in school was the annual visit to the Field Museum in Chicago. I spent hours hanging out in the Egyptian section, which was filled with the ornate treasures of pharaohs and loaded with real mummies.
For people who don't have a real museum handy, an elementary school teacher has put together a fabulous virtual journey to ancient Egypt guaranteed to pique the interest of junior archaeologists and anthropologists.

Site address:

http:// users.massed.net/~mdurant/ AncientEgyptWebquest.htm

Creator:

Educational Page Crafters in Jamaica Plain, Mass., is a start-up company that provides safe places on the Internet where students, teachers and parents can learn and explore a variety of topics.

Creator quotable:

"We created the Ancient Egypt Webquest to inspire all ages to have fun while they dig into ancient Egypt," says Matthew Durant, executive director of Educational Page Crafters. "First, we asked a question to inspire learners to access prior knowledge and get them excited to explore ancient Egypt further. Next, we provided resources (children's literature and Web sites) so that the learner could safely explore quality Internet sites about ancient Egypt. Finally, we provided an activity to get the learner to apply and solidify their knowledge on ancient Egypt."

Word from the Webwise:

Short on flash but long on learning, the Ancient Egypt Webquest offers an adventure for inquisitive students as well as a pyramid-size pile of information on a pharaoh-filled culture that began to take shape around 5500 B.C.
Before unleashing students on ancient Egypt, parents and teachers should understand the concept behind a Webquest. Students use Mr. Durant's site as a home base and answer a series of questions by roaming through Web pages approved by Mr. Durant. Web sites needed to complete the quest vary from sources such as National Geographic's Mummies page (www.nationalgeographic.com/ media/tv/mummy/index.html) to the University of Memphis' clickable map of Egypt (www.memphis.edu/egypt/ map.htm).
Now, the fun stuff. After successfully traveling back to 1250 B.C., explorers find themselves trapped in Egypt and can return to the current time period only if they locate the burial mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamen and decode a message contained within it about Earth's environmental crisis.
The journey takes place in three phases: Locate King Tut's tomb, locate King Tut's burial chamber and decode the burial mask message. Within the phases, explorers complete mission objectives ranging from learning about the life of ancient Egyptian children to becoming expert at Egyptian games to understanding hieroglyphics to revealing the mysteries of King Tut.
For example, learning about Pharaoh Tutankhamen includes a short introduction to the boy king by Mr. Durant, a list of books available for purchase from Amazon.com and nine links for exploring the life of a 10-year-old who headed one of the most powerful dynasties the world has ever seen.
Anyone not interested in taking the Webquest challenge still will find loads of information using the site map, a discussion board and a group of activities such as crossword puzzles, a "Jeopardy"-like game and coloring books.

Ease of use:

The concept of the Webquest presents the very best of computer teaching by offering the entire Internet as a reference base. However, for this type of teaching to succeed, any Webquest site must have links that work. Mr. Durant has not updated Ancient Egypt since November, and an uncomfortable percentage of his links (four of 11 in the Egyptian Activities section) do not work.
Additionally, I would have designed the pages so linked sites open a new window on browsers, always keeping ancient Egypt in the background for reference. The search engine, site map and quick load times were appreciated, but the links must be updated.

Family activity:

Anyone with a burning desire to mummify will appreciate the "Make Your Own Mummy" activity from Boston's Museum of Science, found under "Mission 3: Egyptian Mummies." Future morticians will learn some of the secrets to Egyptian burial by dehydrating organic material using salt.
To begin, assemble a large quantity of salt, a deep bowl and a few sacrificial pieces of fruit. Pour salt in a bowl, place the fruit in the bowl and cover with salt. Now place the bowl in the corner, and in four to five weeks, the grisly process should be accomplished. Remember, do not eat the fruit and do not cover the bowl. Full instructions with a fantastic set of observations and activities are discussed.

Don't miss:

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism (www.interoz.com/egypt/museum/ tut.htm) allows visitors to take a virtual look at King Tutankhamen's treasures.
Marvel at the splendor of these ancient lands through numerous color photos with background information on items such as the gold cobra sculpture named Netjer-ankh, or "the living god," and a royal scepter made of wood with a sheet of gold beaten to it.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

Exploring the World Wide Web is encouraged to complete the Ancient Egypt Webquest. Parents or teachers uncomfortable with their children's or students' surfing habits will want to stick around the computer and join in the fun.

Information grade:
B+ (It would have been an A++ if all of the links worked.)
Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message
(joseph@twtmail.com).


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