This multifaceted program was created to entertain and amuse youngsters as it teaches them real Math. It targets kids who find Math dull and dreary, and teachers who aim to spice up their curriculum.
The program is divided into seven sections, Math Labs (experiments in math), Kids and Parents Guide (offering neat things for kids and parents to try), Guided Tours (of the program), Tower of Contents (six important parts of mathematics), Games, Fun, and an Index (to find particular subjects).
The math problems included in this program are sometimes interesting and compelling. In many cases, however, they are confusingly written and can therefore produce unnecessary confusion and frustration. Other portions of the program do a nice job of demonstrating the lighter side of math.
Our student testers were not enthusiastic about this program. Although it does contain some intriguing math problems, labs, games and puzzles, much of its presentation is amateurish and frustrating. Voice tracks are unprofessional, filled with crackles and uneven modulations. Directions are insultingly specific in some portions of the program, yet non-existent where really needed. Many of the games are boring and confusing. Although our testers were generally intrigued by the math problems, those on the younger end of the age-spectrum thought that most were too difficult. The puzzles section, which includes optical illusions, card tricks and the like, and the labs section, with math trivia and tips were generally well-liked by our testers.
Ease of Use / Install
This program is fairly simple to install. In Windows 95/98 user’s must use “Run” from the Start Menu, then type in “d:\setup.exe” where “d” is the letter used to designate the CD-ROM drive (this differs depending on the computer brand, and can be found by double clicking on “My Computer” and looking for the letter that appears under the CD-ROM icon).
In the course of our testing, we encountered numerous ease of use issues with this program. For example, students must supply their first and last names to use the program. This was a problem for some of our teacher testers who didn’t want their students' full names listed on programs that are used by multiple classes.
Many of the math questions are not specific enough for student users. The questions are vague, and students were confused about what information was to be answered. Our testers were uncertain of how to proceed in some instances. They were given no direction about the form in which to provide their answers, so that although they were correctly answering the questions, they were repeatedly marked incorrect because they were not rounding the numbers at the precise point that the program required. To illustrate the absurdity of this issue, one student was marked wrong because her whole number answer was not followed by a lone decimal point.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
SuperKids' original review of this program noted the use of several offensive names for characters that could be chosen by the user. We are happy to report that the publisher quickly removed these inappropriate names from the program when questioned by SuperKids. The packaging of the two versions is identical however, and there appears to be no obvious way to distinguish between the two until you open the package, and load the CD. The newly cleansed version is identified in the readme.txt file as version 4.5 and dated 2/5/00. If you have the program, or acquire it, we recommend that you check the version number and date before allowing your child to use it.