Mathpert Algebra Assistant

For Ages 12 and up

See the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Algebra software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only title.

Reviewed on:
Pentium90 with 24MB and 2XCD

Description
Mathpert Algebra Assistant has no games, no blasting, no plot, no characters. The graphics are rather ordinary, as is the sound. But if your child needs help learning algebraic manipulations - for homework, studying for the SATs, or to get ahead - this program is worth considering.

According to the author of this program, success in algebra requires two things:

• Knowledge of what to do, and
• The skill to do what's required.
This program was designed to offer students a tool to help them with both.

Mathpert Algebra Assistant is a kind of teaching word-processor. Students start by picking a problem, either from the categorized selection of over 2500 typical textbook problems, or one of the user's own. The student simply highlights an expression within the equation she wishes to act on, and then selects from a menu of reasonable actions the program generates for each step. That operation is automatically carried out, and the process repeated until a solution is found. [Click to see Demo]

What if the user somehow becomes stumped, midway through factoring a polynomial, or solving a quadratic equation? Here's where the intelligence of the program comes to the rescue. The stumped user can (1) ask for a hint, or (2) ask the program to show the next step, or (3) throw in the towel, and have Mathpert finish the problem.

In the 'showstep' mode, the program generates an animated cursor that illustrates the required actions. Impressively, this capability exists not only for the sample problems in the program, but also for problems the user inputs from other sources!

Educational Value
The educational concept underlying Algebra Assistant, is the recognition that many students make simple errors in attempting to solve algebra problems, and that these errors prevent them from understanding the process. Mathpert eliminates those errors, allowing the students to focus on the decision-making involved in algebraic manipulation.

Kid Appeal
Mathpert Algebra Assistant is unlikely to be a 'hi Mom, bye Mom, head for the bedroom, disappear until supper' kind of program for most kids. In SuperKids' kid trials, one young reviewer acknowledged the utility of the program, and thought it might be "helpful on homework problems."

Ease of Use
Mathpert Algebra Assistant is relatively simple to use, especially after watching the short animated tutorial. The most challenging part of the program, is the requirement that users know what kind of problem they are attempting to solve, if they are entering [say] a homework problem.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This program is potentially valuable to students at both ends of the academic spectrum. Students struggling to understand what their teacher is writing on the board at school, can replicate the problems in Mathpert and see them solved step-by-step. Students interested in moving ahead can benefit in the same way, by working through increasingly difficult problems, or in additional areas. In either case, the student must be motivated to learn.

See the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Algebra software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only title.

 PC Macintosh Operating System Windows 3.1, Win95, Windows NT not available CPU Type and Speed 386 or higher Hard Drive Space 6 MB Memory (RAM) 8 MB minimum Graphics 256-color VGA CD-ROM Speed 1X Audio Windows compatible sound system Other Needs Windows compatible mouse