KS2 History: Ancient Egypt. Rames - The Engineer

Rames is 12 years old and about to join the many thousands of workers constructing one of the pyramids.

Rames - The Engineer

This video follows the story of Ramy, a 12 year old boy from the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt.

As it is Ahket - the flooding season - Ramy and his brother User are not able to work the land. So they are travelling along the River Nile with a group of young workers to the construction site of a new pyramid.

We follow Ramy as he explores the construction site for the first time and are introduced to a set square and plumb line, which is an important tool used by the Ancient Egyptians to make the pyramids level.

We learn about the challenges of moving vast masses of material without the tools and automated machines that we have today.

This is where Ramy’s creative thinking comes in. He works out that the sleds used to move large stone blocks into position work more effectively if the sand is wet.

This makes the building of the pyramids easier and quicker - and Ramy proves that there is more to strength than just muscles.

Teacher's Notes

This resource provides an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of how the Ancient Egyptians used science and engineering to build the pyramids. Pupils can carry out a practical investigation to find out the difference adding water to sand makes to the force needed to pull an object.

As the video progresses, opportunities arise for teachers to discuss skills and talents with pupils and to highlight that in diversity of skills we have strength. Linking to the PSHE curricula by helping pupils understand the importance of various skills when looking at the make-up of a team.

There are opportunities to explore life through the seasons in Ancient Egyptian times, looking at how and why people were able to be released from farming duties to support the building of the pyramids.

Points for discussion (History Linked)

  • How would you feel approaching the site and seeing the pyramid for the first time?
  • Can you explain why Ramy’s idea of adding water to the sand worked?
  • What do you think it would have been like to work on a pyramid construction?
  • What do you think a set square and plumb line were used for?
  • What were the pyramids used for?
  • Why were the young people taken from the farms to the pyramid construction sites at this time of year? Why were they not needed on the farm?

Suggested Activities (Cross Curricular opportunities)

Force InvestigationUsing sand, water, and a standard mass (1kg etc), pupils can replicate the use of water on sand to make moving items easier. Using a force-meter, pupils to pull the weight along the sand and record the force needed. Repeat this, adding water to the sand and recording any changes in force required. Pupils can develop a conclusion to outline how correct Ramy’s idea was.

Creative WritingAfter his discovery, write a diary entry as if pupils were Ramy. How did they feel when they arrived at the site? What did they discover? How did they feel? Opportunity to continue this and write about subsequent days as Ramy assumed the role of supervisor.

Roles of a TeamDiscussion: ‘What did Ramy bring to the team?’ As the discussion progresses, explore whether Ramy would have felt useful during the entire film, or did his feelings of self-worth change as the video went on? Opportunity for a circle time discussion around what we like and admire about others, focussing on the things that are inside rather than physical things.

Building a PyramidUsing smaller cubes such as sugar cubes, can the pupils build their own pyramid. As they do this, they can explore the challenges of achieving the correct shape and size as well as thinking about the tools the Ancient Egyptians would have needed for their pyramids to be built successfully.

Impacts of floodingYoung people were available to help with building pyramids during Ahket because they were unable to farm due to the River Nile flooding. Can pupils find out what causes flooding and how humans respond to it? What are the positive and negative impacts of living in a flood zone and how have humans reacted over time to these?

Curriculum Notes

This film is relevant for teaching History at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 2nd Level in Scotland.

More from this series

King Tutankhamun
Nanu - The Farm Girl
Hussein - The Water Boy

See also...

KS2 Music: Ancient Egypt
Song: 'Build that pyramid'