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Art Software Reviews

Discovering Origami
by Geode Software

For Ages 8 and up

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Art software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot PowerMac 6100/60 with 8MB and 2XCD
Pentium90 with 8MB and a 2XCD

Content
Discovering Origami is a software-based introduction to the art of Japanese paper folding. Beginning with an introductory slide show set to traditional Japanese music, the user learns a bit about the history of origami (although over a 1000 years old, the practice only gained its current name in 1880), the 10 shapes included in the program, their Japanese names, and their symbolism.

The program itself consists of a main screen that offers a selection of designs, ranked from easiest - a pinwheel, to most difficult - a crane. A sheet of paper appears on the screen, and one click at a time, the user sees a fold, and repeats it on an actual sheet of paper. Don't understand what to do? Simply hit the back arrow and see it again as many times as it takes. Well, at least in theory. "Some of the designs progress simply, then all of a sudden proceed with complex motions that seem to require paper that has physical properties from another universe!" according to one parent. The program includes a collection of multi-colored paper to get the user started, and allows for mistakes.

Ease of Install / Use
Origami installed with little difficulty on our test machines. On the PC, we were asked by the installation program for the path to the program, i.e. which drive was the CD in? Somewhat unusually, the default choice was wrong - our CD was the typical drive D, the installer suggested drive A. The installer also prompts for destination drive and directory, but had the defaults correct.

We had a little more trouble on our Mac test machine, not in installing or using the program, but in running the introductory program that comes on the disk. In fact, we were never able to successfully make it all the way through this nice piece on our Mac.

Methodology
Discovering Origami is a very good example of using a multimedia computer for teaching a skill in a way that is difficult to do in other media. The software's ability to show motion through video, one step at a time, and to allow easy repeatability, is perfect for demonstrating origami. Traditional books on the subject typically use arrows and text to describe the steps, with cryptic instructions like: 'Next fold corner C to line D1F1, carefully aligning edge CD with edge DF.' Geode's software shows the folding motion, one clickable step at a time!

Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids measure for how well a program grabs and holds a child's attention. On this measure, Discovering Origami received mixed scores that were highly dependent on the child's artistic inclinations, and their fine motor skills. Some children found this a fascinating program, others simply found it frustrating.

Best for...
Origami is best for children (and adults) who like to do things with their hands, and who have good fine motor skills and patience. If your child has difficulty making paper airplanes, or wrapping presents, this is the wrong program.

Bottom-Line
The program does a very good job of doing what it sets out to do - providing a useful introduction to origami.


See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Art software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1 or Win95 System 7.0 or later
CPU Type and Speed 486SX/25 or faster 68040 or PowerPC
Hard Drive Space 1MB negligible
Memory (RAM) 8MB 8MB
Graphics 256 color 256 color
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Windows-compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs


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