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spacer all reviews > > > science software

Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals

Microsoft

Ages 6 to 10

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
5.0
Kid Appeal
4.5
Ease of Use
4.5

Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This newest title in the Scholastic's Magic School Bus series takes kids on a virtual field trip to seven animal habitats around the world. Led by the unconventional Ms. Frizzle and her class of young scientists, users attempt to find missing animals and return them to their correct habitats. Along the way they enjoy multimedia reports about different animal species, learn fascinating animal facts, play games and explore the world of animals through intriguing activities.

Educational Value
Learning abounds in this delightful program, where unusual animals literally come to life for students. Each habitat features a main screen filled with indigenous plants and animals that can be clicked-on to obtain useful factoids. A toolbox in the lower portion of the screen contains a magnifying glass to view and learn about tiny animals, a microphone for hearing animal sounds, the'bono-scope', to see animal skeletons (which can also be pieced together in the puzzle activity), and a net for identifying and capturing misplaced animals. Once captured, users specify correct habitats to rescue the animals and earn printable certificates.

Habitat screens additionally offer related games and activities that are fun and informative, and a colorforms-like 'Eco-Poster' which kids decorate with animal and character stamps.

When users tire of a specific location, they re-board the Magic Schoolbus. From here they can travel to a new and entirely different animal habitat, visit the back of the bus to freely explore the program's 15 games and activities, or learn fun facts presented by Weird Owl Factovitch. Also accessible from the Schoolbus is a closed-captioning option for hearing impaired students.

Kid Appeal
Most kids love animals and enjoy learning about them. Add arcade-like games, an open exploration section, and a quest (for goal-oriented users), and the result is a winning program that succeeds in teaching without looking like school-work.

"The activities in the back of the bus are the best!" was one SuperKids tester's comment. Particular hits included the Adapt-o-Matic where animals are relocated and adaptations observed, 'Scat Sound Track' where kids match animal scat, sounds and tracks with the correct animals, and 'Swamp Things' which asks users to help Arnold (a frog-kid) avoid snapping turtles as he lunches on flies.

Ease of Use / Install
The Magic School Bus Explores the World of Animals installed without difficulty in our test machines. Program navigation is simple, and little if any parent help is needed. Younger kid testers complained, however, that they were frustrated by some of the activities, noting that fast-twitch, arcade skills are required to succeed.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Filled with seemingly endless animal facts, amusing games, and informative hands-on activities, this program is sure to please (and educate) any young animal lover.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other science software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only program.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95 or later, or Windows NT Workstation 4.0 or later, Multimedia PC with a Pentium or higher processor, 15 MB hard drive space (220 MB recommended), 16 MB RAM, Super VGA, 256-color monitor, Quad-speed or faster CD-ROM, 16-bit Windows-compatible sound card.

Reviewed on:

  • Pentium166 with 48 MB and 12XCD
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