SuperKids' reviewers compared several Astronomy Software programs this month, evaluating their content and design, as well as their kid appeal and ease of use. Which is best for your child? Click on the titles to see SuperKids' complete reviews.
Astronomy [for ages 16 to adult] from Comptonís Learning, includes everything you ever wanted to know about the subject. It is filled, not only with facts and figures, but with maps, tours, interactive tutorials and movies as well.
SkyGazer [for 12 to adult] from Carina Software, is a sophisticated introductory astronomy program based on a database of over 4 million stellar objects. The program can identify and plot the positions of all these objects from anywhere on Earth, at any point and time. Somewhat like a 'planetarium in a box' but without a narrator. The program also includes 600 photographs and two dozen educational and interesting video clips, but lacks much of the material one would find in an introductroy text. Best for an older or more serious student.
Starry Night Deluxe 2.0 [for 12 to 18] from Sienna Software, is built on a similar database, but makes use of a more humorous, kid-oriented interface. While lacking the photos and videos of SkyGazer, it adds the ability to simulate views from anywhere in the solar system, and plot the paths of satellites. It too, however, lacks the descriptive material one would find in an introductory text. Best for younger or slightly less commited students.
Impact: Ground Zero [for ages 10 and up] from All Around Us Interactive, provides an arsenal of information about comets and meteors presented through narrated text, video interviews, photos, reference materials and more. Those interested in extraterrestrial involvement in our universe will be fascinated by this program.
Bill Nye the Science Guy - Stop the Rock [for 9 and up], from Pacific Interactive, provides a fun approach to using scientific methods to help Bill Nye and his team protect the Earth from an approaching meteoroid. Users must find the answers to seven riddles encompassing 20 learning objectives from the National Science Education Standards Manual. Not recommended for children with short attention spans.