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spacer all reviews > > > science, astronomy

Magic School Bus Lands on Mars

Microsoft/Scholastic

ages 6 to 10

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

Magic School Bus Lands on Mars Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Mars. The red planet. Canals. Just the name itself, conjures up instant associations for most adults. How about for kids? What will they think of when they hear the word? If they were a little older, they might think of NASA's Pathfinder probe. After using this program, they'll probably know as much if not more than their parents and teachers.

Educational Value
Magic School Bus Lands on Mars is an exploration and discovery program, not a tutorial or drill-and-kill program. Users are presented with a multitude of click and explore opportunities, with no required path. For example, inside the Magic School Bus, users can click on objects and see experiments demonstrating the effect of different air pressures on common objects. (Our young reviewer especially liked comparing the outcomes of different pressures on a marshmellow.) Outside the bus, geologic and geographic features are available for exploration. Collectively, the Mars factoids presented do a very good job of describing the red planet.

Kid Appeal
Magic School Bus Lands on Mars continues on in the same style as earlier titles focusing on Animals, Bugs, and The Earth. Using the kid-familiar characters and setting from the popular educational television series, this program draws young users into a factoid exploration and discovery session. Several arcade-style games supplement the discovery opportunities with the chance to exercise eye-hand-mouse coordination. The two our users liked best (a Mars lander, and a Mars rover) weren't educational, but they weren't violent, either. A Mars fact quiz show also proved surprisingly popular.

Ease of Use / Install
Installation of Magic School Bus Lands on Mars was simple on our Windows test machine. After self installing, the program prompts the user for a name, then allows the user to create an animated character to represent him/herself. Program navigation was intuitive for both our 8 year-old tester, and her father.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This is a great introduction-to-Mars program for both budding space travelers, and the non-science minded child. Mars factoids are presented in a fun manner, and the inclusion of several non-violent, arcade-style games will satisfy young gamers.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other Science or Astronomy software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions of this program.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95 or later, or Windows NT or later, Pentium 133 or faster, 15 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM for Windows 95/98, 32 MB for NT, SVGA 256-color monitor, 4x or faster CD-ROM drive, 16-bit sound card and speakers .

Mac: MacOS 8.1 or later, iMac, iBook, or PowerPC 233 Mhz or higher, 15 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM for OS 8.1, 32 MB RAM for OS 9.1 or later, SVGA 256-color monitor, 4x or faster CD-ROM drive, 16-bit sound card and speakers.

Reviewed on:

  • PentiumII-450 with 128MB and 24XCD
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