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Science instruction has come a long way in the past few decades, and perhaps thatís the reason kids no longer feel the need to Ďhateí the subject. Teachers routinely involve kids in interesting, hands-on experimentation, instead of simply presenting it through confusing, overly-technical lectures. I Love Science promotes this new, enlightened method of teaching science. It presents a huge variety of science topics, each with a virtual hands-on experiment that makes the subject come to life for the student.
Set in three locales, I Love Science features virtual hosts who enthusiastically share their favorite science facts and concepts with their audience. The southern tomboy, Mo, takes the user to her workshop to delve into the world of physical science, including forces, electricity, light, sound and heat. Al, the charming Brit, welcomes the user into his kitchen, where he not only cooks with passion, but he also enjoys sorting, testing, changing and separating matter. And Rosie shares the science of life from her treehouse, investigating the human body, animals, plants and the environment. Each guide is uniquely adorable, and so true to character that one must assume they are patterned after real-life scientists.
Topics are all structured similarly; pages contain few paragraphs of written text, in which certain words are highlighted. When the student clicks on a highlighted word, a new text box opens up with a definition of that word. In addition to text, each topic page includes an illustration, a "Did You Know?" button which also opens up a new text box including an interesting factoid on the current topic, and finally, a "Play" button which leads the user to the experimentation and drill section of the program.
Experiments are simple and quickly completed. They require user participation - for example, the user may be asked to move or connect objects in some way so as to observe their effect on each other. Once the experiment is completed, the user is asked five multiple choice questions. Each correct answer fills in one of five stars.
In addition to these activities, bonus activities earn kids extra stars. At the end of each three topic lesson, the user plays a summary game that combines fast twitch ("game") skills, with answering review questions. If the student succeeds at this activity, s/he earns a printable, away-from-the-computer experiment, and a certificate that specifies the total number of stars earned thus far and in which subjects they have been earned. This certificate can be used by parents and teachers to track the progress of each user.
Teachers commended the program on its wide variety of subject material. "Our students seem to get a lot of additional input in the life sciences, but very little in the physical sciences," was one teacherís comment. "This program provides an excellent overview of the subject matter."
Program navigation is intuitive. Adjustable options include volume control, speed of games and amount of animation, brightness of screen, and an option to change the way the mouse is used to pick up objects. Experiments are explained through text and narration, and our testers found directions easy to understand and simple to follow.
PC: Windows 3.1x, 95 or 98, 486DX/33 MHz or faster cpu, 20 MB hard drive space, 8 MB RAM for Windows 3.1, 12 MB for Windows 95 and 16 MB for Windows 98, 640 x 480 pixels, 256 color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, 8-bit sound card.return to top of page
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