Surf into Science 3 is the science component of INNOVA's "Whale of a Tale" series of early learning software. This series is designed to help students learn basic skills in Math, Science, Language (see SuperKids' review of Leap into Language 1) and Social Studies. Training in this series is presented in a simple, straightforward format and features a consistent cast of cartoon characters
The topics found in Surf into Science 3 include: Energy, Environment, Earth, Weather, and Just for Fun. Each topic is divided into numerous sub-topics, each of which is filled with learning opportunities for the motivated and inquisitive child.
Our testers likened this program to a narrated kids science book. Interesting information abounds, and short, multiple choice quizzes follow each lesson. Topics and their subtopics include: Energy -- Magnetic, Wind and Water and Solar; Earth -- Soil, Plants and Landforms; Environment -- Ecosystems, Seacoast Ecosystems and Forest Ecosystems; and Weather -- Weather Systems, Clouds and Wind. In addition, the Just for Fun section features fun games that incorporate information learned in the above portions of the program.
This program is not as entertaining as those based on movie or television characters. It does not offer the fancy, cartoon-quality graphics and animation generally found in programs produced by the larger, more commercially-oriented companies. Furthermore, the sound quality is amateurish, giving the program a garage production flavor.
Those kids who are interested in the material, however, will find that Surf into Science offers more than the typical interactive television episode format of many programs aimed at this age-group. Like a children's reference book, it will, if given the opportunity to show its strengths, encourage interest and curiosity and help build a foundation for learning basic science topics and facts. Not only that, but the included games are quite fun, if perhaps not as abundant as one might wish.
Ease of Use / Install
To install Surf into Science 3 on Windows 95/98, users must first select 'Run' from the Start Menu, then type in "d:\win95\setup", where "d" represents the drive letter for the user's CD-ROM. To find a CD-ROM drive letter, double click on "My Computer", and note the letter listed under the CD-ROM icon. Macintosh users can copy the appropriate Surf into Science 3 folder onto their hard drive.
Once installed, program navigation is simple and intuitive.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
This program, although definitely more educational than fun, can help spark a child's interest in beginning science. We recommend it's inclusion as an enrichment opportunity in the primary classroom, and the home library. It is not recommended for those with short attention spans.