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spacer all reviews > > > science software

The Phenomenal World of Physics

Micro-Intel

Ages 10 to 14

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
4.5
Kid Appeal
3.8
Ease of Use
5.0

The Phenomenal World of Physics Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This science program for upper-elementary and middle-school aged children, presents the fundamentals of physics in an interactive text-book fashion. The main screen is an overview of a small home. Each of the areas within the home represents a different 'chapter' in the World of Physics. Users move their cursor around the room and click on the areas they choose to explore. For example, in the bathroom, the user can learn about "Everyday Plumbing", while in the kitchen they will confront "Irresistible Pressure".

Each topic area is further broken down into many sub-topics. Information is presented in a variety of ways. In some cases a principle is explained with simple animation and narration, while at other times an illustration and accompanying text are used. Often a story is used to help illustrates a principle: When King Hiero wanted to know whether a crown given to him was pure gold or a lead and gold alloy he turned to Archimedes, who applied his principle (Archimedes' Principle) to uncover the truth. This brief story, and others like it, help young users better grasp a potentially difficult new principle.

The Phenomenal World of Physics provides a dictionary section which is linked throughout the program to new and/or difficult terminology, scientists' names, etc. Also included is a supplemental Physics Word Games program which includes a number of games and puzzles that use terms learned in The Phenomenal World of Physics.

Educational Value
The information provided in The Phenomenal World of Physics is comprehensive and well-written. A wide range of topics are covered, and accessible examples are included. Kids with the motivation to pursue exploration of the program will be exposed to a number of physics topics including: pressure, gravity, pumps, levers, centrifuges, and much more.

Also included is a "CyberEditor" which allows students to copy anything from the CD-ROM--text, drawings, photographs, and even films and paste it into a word processing document.

Kid Appeal
The Phenomenal World of Physics does not spoon-feed the user. The information is not disguised in an elaborate storyline or fast-twitch arcade game. It is, in fact, more like a colorful interactive encyclopedia. Graphics are basic, but pleasant, and illustrations are useful. Content is clearly written and its delivery is right on-target--neither too basic nor too complex.

Our student testers were generally impressed by the program, however many reported that it is not one that they are likely to use again. Those who did plan to return to the program also found the topics interesting and would like to learn more about them and about physics in general.

Ease of Use / Install
The Phenomenal World of Physics runs directly from the CD, no installation is necessary. Program navigation is simple and clear. A series of icons in the upper right of each screen allows users to choose the path they will take in moving through the program. In addition a sitemap or index screen gives an overview of the complete program and allows users to jump to any given portion of the program with a click. A pdf-formatted User's Manual is also available on the CD-ROM.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This simple yet informative physics program is well-suited for the targeted age group. It will especially benefit the dedicated and self-motivated learner.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other science software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95 (or better), Pentium Processor (or better), 12 MB RAM (or more), Color Monitor 640 x 480 display, 256 colors (or better), 4X (or faste) CD-ROM.

Mac: System 7.1 or higher, 68040 or PowerPC or faster cpu, INSERT MB hard drive space, 12 MB RAM, Color Monitor 640 x 480, 256 colors (or better) display, 2X (4X recommended) or faster CD-ROM.

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium266 with 64MB and 12XCD
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