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spacer all reviews >>> math software

Math for the Real World

Davidson

Ages 10 and up

Educational Value - 4.7 Kid Appeal - 4.9 Ease of Use - 4.7

Math for the Real World Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

At long last, an answer to the familiar question, "Why do I need to learn this stuff?" As the title suggests, Math for the Real World introduces children to real-world situations in which math skills are essential requirements, and does so in a fun, non-threatening manner that kids (and even adults) will applaud.

The theme is simple and appealing. Become a roadie, travelling the countryside with a hot new rock band. Their goal is to make a full, ten-scene video that will propel the band to stardom. But the somewhat slimy agent involved in the deal is not about to fork over any money up-front. The cash needed to shoot the video must be earned as the tour progresses.

It's not too difficult to guess how the user earns the above-mentioned dollars. Situations arise throughout the virtual trip that require math skills--paths must be chosen, areas measured, change counted and pizzas equitably divided. Each correct solution increases the amount in the band's piggy bank, while incorrect answers are costly.

The band is periodically invited to visit the recording studio and use acquired income to purchase music-video scenes. Manipulation of variables such as background and foreground content make these scenes great fun to create and personalize. The scenes build upon each other, so that by the end of the tour the user has compiled a full-length animated video that s/he can save and display for family and friends.

Educational Value
Problems posed by Math for the Real World cover a wide spectrum of math topics, including addition and subtraction, money, time, fractions, decimals, percents, weight, measurement, and patterns among others. Initially the problems are quite basic, but the program automatically adjusts the math content to match the ability level of the user, keeping everyone adequately challenged.

A help icon on each problem screen takes the user to the 'reference library' where necessary skills are clearly explained in language that is interesting and easy to follow. This section leads the user through the steps involved in solving basic math problems. Our child reviewers reported that they occasionally referred to the library, and always found what they needed for successful completion of the situation at hand.

Kid Appeal
Who wouldn't want to travel around the U.S. in a VW van, hanging with kooky band members, creating music videos, and performing concerts (yes, the user even gets to sit in as the guest drummer at times)? Math doesn't look like boring equations in this program, in fact at times it doesn't look like math at all. Our kid testers were shocked to learn that serving up burgers and fries or deciding which month resulted in the highest profits for the band involved math. "I'm good at this!" was the astonished observation of one 10 year-old reviewer.

Ease of Install / Use
This program installed without difficulty on our test machines.

The only complaint we received pertaining to the use of the program was dissatisfaction with a Pacman-like section that was presumably included to keep kids interested. The student must use the keyboard arrow keys to move the van around a maze where it seeks dollars signs (thus earning additional income) while evading fans. Manipulation of this section proved to be difficult and frustrating for our testers who felt that rather than improving the program's appeal, it was a detraction.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Math for the Real World shows kids that they DO use math everyday, and lets them succeed in using that math. And when learning and fun go hand in hand everyone goes away happy--in this case, however, they'll be back.

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

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.1, Windows 95, 486/66 or faster cpu, 8 MB RAM, 256-color Super VGA graphics, 2X or faster CD-ROM, Windows compatible sound device, mouse

Mac: System 7.1 or higher, 68040 or Power PC cpu, 12 MB RAM with 8 MB available, 256-color system, 2X or faster CD-ROM

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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