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Garbage: The Inside Story


Ages 10-14

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

Garbage The Inside Story Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Garbage: The Inside Story describes the substances commonly found inside trash. The software explores how glass, paper and plastic are made, what happens to garbage once it is collected, and how waste can be recycled. The program targets children between the ages of ten and fourteen and is designed so that children can pick and choose options based on their interests. On the opening screen of the program, children can choose to study the substances found inside garbage or play a recycling word game based on the knowledge they acquire through the program. Once children click on the icon for the section that helps them learn about the components of garbage, they can focus on the specific types of garbage - plastic, organic waste, aluminum - that most interests them.

Garbage: The Inside Story includes animated talking characters, a dictionary of over two hundred words and their definitions. The program presents its vast amounts of information about garbage using technical and scientific terminology.

Educational Value
Garbage: The Inside Story teaches children how to describe garbage using chemical terms and explains how garbage is processed and recycled. The software includes information on the structure, processing and recycling of each type of garbage. For example, the program describes and shows the chemical structure of plastic and discusses the origin of aluminum. In addition, the program includes short video clips about the origin of civilization and the subsequent pressures placed by humans on their environment.

The assessment portion of the software includes a quiz and a recycling game, which requires children to use the terminology they have learned through their exploration of garbage.

Kid Appeal
Garbage: The Inside Story conveys content rather poorly. Though the animated characters talk slowly, the information is not easily comprehensible. Many of the words the characters use are beyond the understanding of children between the ages of ten and fourteen. Though terms such polymer and bauxite are defined in the program lexicon, children will most likely resent looking up words in a dictionary every two minutes and will also not retain the information for an extended period of time. In short, the wealth of information embedded in the program is not particularly useful to children because the material is overwhelming and explained poorly. A child could use the program in class if the teacher created a list of terms and concepts for students to research and also provided supplementary information explaining the large number of concepts in the program that are complex and advanced.

Ease of Use / Install
To start Garbage: The Inside Story, insert the CD-ROM into the computer. The program then installs and cues the user to install QuickTime. The program interface is not intuitive. The screen is poorly-illuminated. Descriptions of the icons only appear when a user runs his or her mouse over icons. Without moving the mouse over the screen several times, a user may find it difficult to figure out the various options from which he or she can choose. Also, icons are surrounded by non-active graphics, and differentiating one from the other is difficult. The forward, back and return to main menu keys are also poorly-labeled. Children will most likely require adult supervision if they are to gather information at any level of depth from the program.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Self-motivated children who have a strong background in science and can learn quickly by memorizing may most benefit from this program. Also children assigned the task of writing a research paper or conducting a science project on garbage recycling may find the information in this program useful. The program is not particularly fun, intuitive or clear for an average child between the ages of ten and fourteen. A well-illustrated book with simple, clear descriptions combined with a hands-on composting project would more successfully achieve the goal of educating a child about garbage and recycling than this software.

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, NT 4.0 or higher, Pentium class or faster cpu, 16 MB RAM, 256 color display, 4x or faster CD-ROM drive, sound card .

Mac: System 7.1 or higher, 68040 processor or faster cpu, 16 MB RAM, 256 color or greater display, 4x or faster CD-ROM drive .

Reviewed on:

  • PentiumIII 366MHz with 128 MB RAM and 24x CD-ROM
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