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Located in a Space Station orbiting the planet Earth, Space Academy GX-1 is "where the best and brightest come to learn" about science. Individuals enter the academy as cadets. They then strive to accumulate points, through correct responses in a series of Q/A modules, to elevate their standing and ultimately reach admiral status.
From the program's main screen, students can choose between four activity options. Included are the 'Planetary Data Center', where kids interpret data to answer questions about the solar system, the 'Gravity Pilot Trainer', which invites students to launch rockets aimed at targets on Earth and in Space, the 'EarthSunMoon Simulator', where users observe the relative positions of the Earth, Sun and Moon in a concrete and interactive manner, and the electronic 'Reference Guide', a multimedia reference tool that contains information on all the major science topics covered in the program.
Each of the three non-reference portions of this program uses "Virtual Manipulatives" to help students understand the presented concepts. For example, in the EarthSunMoon Simulator, students view a 3-D model that can be set into motion at different speeds and viewed from different angles. They are encouraged to play with the system, adjusting the many settings to see how the relationships change. In like manner, the Planetary Data Center requires students to conduct simple experiments and interpret data presented through charts, illustrations and animations, while the Gravity Pilot Trainer lets kids experiment with angles of launch and amounts of thrust and then observe the results of their manipulations.
The Preferences tab, which is available from the main screen, allows parents and teachers to view students' progress in each module. A grow slide automatically advances to the more difficult challenges as the student successfully completes each portion of the program, and can also be manually set at a certain level by the parent or teacher.
In general, this program is far less "gamey" than many in this category. It focuses on learning, albeit in an enjoyable manner, rather than entertainment.
PC: Windows 95/98 or later, Pentium or better, 90 MHz or faster, 12 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 640x480, thousands of colors display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM.return to top of page
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