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Math Software Reviews

The Great San Francisco Math Scavenger Hunt
from Sparkle Productions

For Ages 8 to 12

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

Reviewed on:
The Great San Francisco Math Scavenger Hunt Screen Shot Performa 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium90 with 24MB and a 2XCD

Described by its creators as an educational computer math game, this program combines reading, math, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills in a virtual board-game setting. The object of the game is to collect a set of objects in a scavenger hunt that leads the user through San Francisco, stopping at various landmarks to solve real-life math problems. The reward for each correct solution is a crucial item needed to complete the hunt.

The gameboard is a simple yet surprisingly accurate map of San Francisco. Users click on a "spin" button to initiate the spinning of two separate number wheels. When the wheels stop spinning the user is given the option of adding or subtracting (or in the advanced level, multiplying) the two results to arrive at the number of moves that can be made along the game path. Users must land exactly on a landmark to enter and undertake the activity contained therein. Each landmark features a character who requires assistance of some kind. Activities include helping a stat keeper at Candlestick Park analyze charts and figure batting averages; deciphering geometric patterns for a t-shirt maker in Haight-Ashbury, and correctly portioning pizzas at a North Beach pizza parlor. Interesting and pertinent bits of trivia can also be obtained at each location with a click.

Ease of Install / Use
Installation on Windows 95 and Macintosh was straightforward and simple. Windows is the recommended format to play this game on, however. Reviewers complained that it ran at a frustratingly slow speed on all but the newest Power Macintosh computers.

Educational Value
Not a game of drills or extended practice opportunities, this game instead provides the user with real-life situations in which to use math as well as problem-solving skills. It answers the age-old question: ". . .but when will I ever use any of this?" posed by every child who ever found mathematics tedious. Although it doesn't actually teach math skills, it does, in some instances, illustrate and clarify them. Learning about San Francisco and her landmarks is an extra bonus.

The suggested age-range for this program is on the high end. Beginning levels provided little challenge for our 8 year-old reviewers, and the advanced level topped out at ages 10 or 11. One teacher-reviewer commented that it ". . .is better suited to the average student than above average." She also complained about the way in which incorrect answers are handled. "A hint about a new approach would (be) beneficial."

Kid Appeal
This is not a noisy, hi-tech arcade type game. The graphics are not particularly exciting, what little animation exists is basically a series of stills, and characters lack charisma. However, the "scavenger hunt" theme is a definite draw, especially among young girls, and the challenge of completing the hunt before allotted spins run out provides additional enticement. It can be played by up to 4 players, either competitively, against each other, or cooperatively, as a team. Children who enjoy the wheel-spinning and token-moving involved in playing board games will enjoy playing this game over and over.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
The Great San Francisco Math Scavenger Hunt is a fun, educational alternative to standard board games. It incorporates math and problem-solving skill application into a popular game theme. As a true learning tool it is best for students in mid-elementary school (2nd -- 5th grades), but older students find it enjoyable as well. As an adult-child activity it is a decided winner, opening avenues for further exploration and discovery of mathematics in every day life.

Educational Value = 4/5, Kid Appeal = 4/5, Ease of use = 5/5
Ratings key, 1=weak 5=excellent

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

Children's Software System Requirements


Operating System Windows 3.1/Win95 System 7 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 486 or faster 68040 or faster
Hard Drive Space 13 MB none
Memory (RAM) 8 MB 8 MB
Graphics SVGA/640x480x256 colors 256 color display
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Windows compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs

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