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spacer all reviews > > > science software

Space Academy GX-1


Ages 8 to 12

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Space Academy GX-1 Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

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.

Educational Value
Space Academy GX-1 approaches learning in a hands-on manner, giving students ample opportunities for experimentation, interpretation and deduction. Students are encouraged to make observations, analyze data, and form and test hypotheses. Unlike programs that present facts and then require students to memorize and regurgitate them, this program offers uninformed students the means with which to find the answers they seek. It promotes the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills, while illustrating the scientific method, a crucial subject for students at this learning level.

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.

Kid Appeal
Space Academy GX-1 is a polished program, with excellent graphics and attractive animations. Our student testers especially liked the Q/A portion of the program, which requires analytical thinking rather than previous knowledge of the subject. This lessened the possible frustration level for most testers, as did the fact that fast twitch skills are not necessary to enjoy the program.

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.

Ease of Use / Install
Space Academy GX-1 installed without difficulty in our test machines. The user interface is clear and complete, making program navigation a simple process. Each module offers students a "tour" which takes them step-by-step through the interface and points out the many options and how to access each of them.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Space Academy GX-1 offers students ample opportunities for experimentation, interpretation and deduction. Its "virtual manipulatives" provide hands-on learning and illustrate important concepts in the study of space, astronomy and the solar system.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other science software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
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.

Mac: System 7.5.6 or higher, Power PC or faster cpu, 12 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 640x480, thousands of colors display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM.

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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