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2nd grade software
That “dastardly Dr. O” has pulled another prank. He has painted moustaches on all the faces on Mount Jumpmore. JIA (JumpStart Intelligence Agency) needs help. Hopsalot is working on an invention to clean up this mess, but he is missing a few pieces. Players are to help CJ and Edison collect gadget pieces from field agents around the world to construct Hopsalot’s invention, the soapy shooter. In order to collect the gadget pieces, players must use their knowledge to help CJ accomplish a variety of tasks: crossing the Amazon, cleaning the basement of the Louvre, playing a game of Red Squares in Moscow, going on an outback hovercraft trek, deciphering a Serengeti cave code, and building a bridge to save the Antarctic penguins. Players choose in what order to complete the tasks by selecting a location from the world map at spy headquarters. Once all of the gadget pieces have been obtained, they must be assembled to enable the soapy shooter to clean up the monument.
JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade drills a wide array of skills, largely in mathematics and language arts. Mathematics skills reviewed include addition with and without carrying, subtraction with and without borrowing, money, time, pre-algebra, estimation, rounding, odd and even numbers, and ordinals. Language arts skills drilled include compound words, contractions, antonyms, synonyms, homophones, past and present verbs, plural and singular pronouns, reading comprehension, and alphabetical order.
The creators of this program didn’t leave much out; they even threw in a couple of token art and science challenges to cover all their bases (using visual discrimination skills to clean the basement of the Louvre, recognizing pitch and duration of notes in the New Orleans Flea Circus, and determining the order of life cycles to save the Antarctic penguins). Although these skills are pertinent to second grade curricula, it seems that many of the drills aren’t terribly effective. In the Amazon River Hop, for example, a player might be asked to choose the correct contraction for “she is”. Of the four choices, only one is a contraction; the other options are all compound words. It’s simply a matter of finding the word that’s not like the others. The math drills pose a greater challenge to players.
The program does offer bits of historical and geographical information along the way. Users can choose to click on certain objects, like a Mayan temple in South America or a lioness in Tanzania, to learn more about them. Players can also listen to useful phrases in different languages during their quests.
In another effort to do it all, JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade offers tips to players from its All-Stars, each one representing a different learning style (The Wordsmith, The Artist, The Athlete, The Musician, The Math Whiz, The People Person, The Explorer). When signing on, players answer a series of questions about their likes, dislikes and abilities; the All-Stars Match-Up Quiz then recommends an All-Star with the same dominant learning style as the child. By clicking on the gold star icon in the lower right corner of the screen, a player can access the All-Star walkie-talkie for helpful hints. While not always pertinent to the task at hand, the tips are valuable. Tips offered for the reading comprehension challenge in the Serengeti include: reading the first sentence to learn what the paragraph will be about (The Wordsmith), using headings and subheadings (The Explorer), acting out the passage (The Athlete).
Before or after the quest, a child can access an assessment to test her/his skills. This would be valuable to a teacher as a beginning of the year assessment as it briefly covers most of the mathematics and language arts concepts mentioned above.
The James Bond meets Scooby Doo introduction provides an air of intrigue and some crazy, colorful graphics to ensure a captive audience. The quest provides the motivation to complete the skill-based challenges. While the concepts drilled along the way are all age-appropriate, the challenges could be made more difficult. However, some users did experience frustration trying to construct the soapy shooter at the end of the quest. JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade is best suited for use at home; its length makes it impractical for classroom use.
JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade was easy to install and uninstall, and program navigation was fairly straightforward. Instructions are spoken prior to each challenge. There is an on-disc manual with helpful information, but it is difficult to access mid-game. Some players had difficulty moving objects; it is necessary to click and hold an object (rather than double clicking) in order to move it. With the exception of the last challenge, putting together the soapy shooter, the program shouldn’t require adult supervision.
JumpStart Advanced 2nd Grade addresses many skills covered in the second grade curriculum, while the music, graphics and secret spy mission make the program entertaining for young users. It could be a fun way to encourage kids to gear up for school.
PC: Windows 98 or better, Pentium 233 MHz processor, 64 MB of RAM, 16-bit color, 640 x 480 screen resolution, Windows-compatible sound card, 12x CD-ROM, 100 MB hard disk space.return to top of page
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