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Beat the Calculator is designed to improve a personís skills at mental math. The software requires a user to identify numbers that combine to a computer-determined total. Users must choose this combination of numbers from a game board. To qualify as a valid response, the numbers must be adjacent to each other on the game board. By levels 3 and 4 of the program, a user must solve complicated problems in his head. The faster a player responds to questions, the more points he receives. The program deducts points for incorrect answers and, therefore, discourages random guessing.
A child can play Beat the Calculator in German, English or Dutch. She can play alone or compete with her friends. In the multi-user interface, all participants play at the same time. The person who guesses the answer to an equation first types in her code on the keyboard and then tries to answer the question accurately. The program ensures that no participant is left waiting for her competitor to complete a round. A kid can adjust Beat the Calculator to her ability level. She can also click on an icon called Tips ní Tricks if she is confused about mathematics rules and operations.
Most kids are so reliant on calculators, they are not even confident with simple mathematics. By fifth- or sixth-grade, many kids may have significant aversion to the introductory levels of Beat the Calculator, so parents may want to introduce this program to their children at an early age.
The program assists teachers and parents in evaluating a childís progress. Adults can track how well a child has performed at a certain level, how her performance compares with earlier sessions, and how her performance compares with that of other users.
The interface of Beat the Calculator is simple and labeled with clear headings. A user can click on icons to learn how to play the game and chart scoring and progress. The program does not clearly describe how a user should use the keys and mouse to choose numbers on the game board, but after a few tries and some adult assistance, kids will figure out how to run the program.
PC: Windows 3.x/95/98, 485 or faster cpu, 2-8MB hard drive space, 8 MB RAM .return to top of page
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