A&B Computing

Whispy Wood

Author: Des Thomas
Publisher: R.E.S.O.U.R.C.E.
Machine: BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 5.07

Whispy Wood

RESOURCE's Whispy Wood is the other program based on a conservation theme, but this one has more of a traditional adventure flavour about it. All the problems the youngsters come across are associated with the environment and movement around is by means of one word commands, e.g. compass, directions, climb, dig, hide.

The program is in two parts, but in both the children are asked to assume the role of a caterpillar (regular readers might remember Ginn's Surburban Fox in which the user was asked to take on the role of a fox). Munche the caterpillar has to find his way around the wood meeting the other creatures going about their everyday business of survival. In the first section, the wood may be explored without coming to any harm simply by pressing N, S, E or W to indicate the desired direction of movement. This enables a map to be made of the wood and, depending on the option selected from the teachers' page, obtain descriptions of the locations with flora and fauna identified. Other options available give compass directions only (for rapid mapping); full description of location; no description but flora and fauna identified; and limit the size of the wood (30-54 locations).

If this work is to be done thoroughly, it's going to be quite time consuming - fortunately, there is a Jump facility Shift which allows the locations visited to be listed and enables the user to jump to a designated new location. The basic mapping can be achieved as a collaborative effort by the whole class, so again I would have found an option which permits a printout of the information useful to form the basis of a large wall map, which could be used by individuals/groups when the computer was being used by other groups in preparation for their Test of Fellowship.

This is the second part of the program in which Munche may be attacked by any of the dangers in the wood. "He must remember to think like a caterpillar and that he is only four centimetres long. There are five levels of the test: the higher the number, the harder the test, so in level five he may be attacked by all the dangers, while in level one only some of the dangers will harm him."

A copy of Woodland Life in the Usborne Spotters' Guide series is included in the pack, which the children can refer to in order to find out more about the plants and animals mentioned. Look closely, and some delightful Derek Allen cameos can be found, but I would have liked to see some detailed drawings occasionally in part one in place of the descriptions, i.e. sometimes find the plant from the description; sometimes from a drawing. This program will enhance any project on woodlands undertaken with upper juniors.

Des Thomas

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