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This "botany lab in a box" provides users with everything they need to learn about and experience growing beans from seeds. The kit includes an instructional and informational CD-ROM and an easy-to-use lab kit, complete with seeds, petri dish, growing medium, magnifying glass and ruler. The CD guides the user through 10 days of activities, as well as offering related facts and information and a handy journal for entering observations and measurements.
Kids access the program's "Instructocon" daily to follow step-by-step instructions presented by the "Nerdy Lab Assistant". This madcap character not only explains and demonstrates how to perform the experiment, he also explains the biology behind what's happening in the experiment in easy to understand terms. When kids are not following the Lab Assistant, or jotting down observations and answering questions in the electronic notebook (called the "AutoScribe"), they can access the program's two 'virtual machines': the "Glossiraptor" which is a glossary of scientific terms related to the subjects under study, and the "InfoDrive," a fact file filled with interesting scientific material presented in amusing ways. Examples of InfoDrive topics include "Why do beans give you gas?" (this section has some interesting sound effects!), "Burgers, fries, shakes, and BEANS?" which compares the food value in the aforementioned foods, and "Talking to plants" (do they speak English?).
The lab itself is extremely informative, and really lets kids do hands-on observation. Our testers especially liked dissecting their beans. Their only complaint about the program was that it requires a large time investment. "I would have preferred to do this over vacation or during the summer," was a 6th grader's comment. "Then I could really devote more time to it."
Parent reviewers felt that the program's daily time commitment was "just right" and looked forward to joining their children in the experimentation and learning process. "My daughter and I worked with our beans at the same time each day," was one mother's comment, "it was a nice way to connect with each other, and we both learned a considerable amount!"
The included Parent's Guide provides a valuable overview of each day of the experiment. It specifies lab activities, lists related terms and InfoDrive topics, suggests discussion ideas and warns about potential experimental pitfalls.
PC: Windows 95 or greater, 166 MHz or faster cpu, 32 MB RAM, 16-bit color display, CD-ROM drive, Sound system.return to top of page
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