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Cells Alive! is an excellent library of biological images and video clips. The CD shows a diversity of cells and microscopic organisms – melanoma cells dividing, viruses entering their hosts, bacteria replicating, toenail fungi sprouting hyphae, embryonic heart cells beating, immune cells attacking antigens, and more. The CD also shows how cells grow, divide and die.
The product reproduces the information available on the Cells Alive! website. The CD format is more useful for a classroom, because teachers and students do not need to have an active Internet connection to access information.
The Cells Alive! CD is poorly-organized. The title of a file often does not explain the file’s content. Instead, the titles are a series of numbers and letters. A user must open a file to figure out what it contains. A teacher would have to spend time cataloging the CD if her students were to use the CD efficiently.
Cells Alive! presents an array of information about cells and their importance to human life. Many of the images are real – they are recorded by high-power microscopes, with and without attached video cameras. The material on the CD opens the microscopic world to students. Instead of reading about cells or looking at pictures in a textbook, students can see cells at work. The author of the video has incorporated animations to supplement video images that are unclear. In addition, the CD offers accurate, clear text to explain the content of images and videos.
The material on this CD would excite elementary-, middle- and high-school students. How could you not respond to heart muscle cells coordinating an embryonic heartbeat? How could you not be repulsed by toenail fungus? How could you not be transfixed by an animation that shows the HIV virus as it enters its host and uses its DNA for viral replication?
Younger children will need guidance to use Cells Alive!. First, someone must catalog the images. Then an adult must help a child understand what he is seeing.
Middle- and high-school students could examine the content of Cells Alive! just for fun or use its contents for a research project. They could use the images and video clips as part of a presentation.
Teachers could attach a computer to a video projector and incorporate the images and video clips into their lectures. So when a teacher talked about cell growth, replication, and death, he could display actual cell processes instead of talking about these concepts in the abstract.
Using the CD is simple. One needs to simply insert Cells Alive! into a Macintosh or PC and click on files that one wants to open. The file "Quiz 2" did not contain any information, but the remaining files, of which there are hundreds, ran smoothly.
Cells Alive! is best-suited for increasing student interest in science because it exposes students to real-life images of cells that affect their lives and engage their imaginations. The CD format is most useful for a classroom because a teacher and students can easily access the information without an Internet connection.
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