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SuperKids Educational Software Review. The parents' and teachers' guide to educational software
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Algebra Software Reviews

Grade Builder Algebra 1
from The Learning Company

For Ages 12 to 14

See the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Algebra software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Grade Builder Algebra 1 Screen Shot PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

Description
Grade Builder Algebra 1 covers an entire year of Algebra in an easy-to-follow format that includes 60 lesson topics, tutoring on specific problem areas, and games intended to reinforce the lessons and test the user’s understanding and retention.

Grade Builder's main screen features a virtual environment known as the ‘Infinity Cyber Learning Cafe’ from which the program’s various components can be easily accessed. At the end of each interactive lesson, the user can opt to go to a game associated with its particular lesson material.

'Death by Algebra,' is a quiz-show style game in which the user answers a series of questions at various difficulty levels. Correct answers, which must be provided within a specified time period, earn the player points, while incorrect answers cost them one of their (game) lives. The user may choose to begin with simple questions, of minimal point value and work up to the more difficult challenges.

A second game, 'Soak Your Sibling' simulates a water-tossing game between the student and his or her computer generated sibling. Problems reinforce the coordinate geometry topics covered in Algebra 1, and require quick-thinking reflexes.

Also accessible from the main screen are the simulations ‘Infinity Web’ and ‘Infinity Mail,’ which add color to the program and allow the student a bit of web site experience. These extras are probably unnecessary additions however, and may, in fact, appear simplistic to a student at this presumed age-level.

Ease of Install / Use
Grade Builder allows the user to synchronize the program to match his or her school textbook. This option lets the student review specific areas to solidify understanding or study for a test or quiz. Included with the program are six textbook options, and additional titles are available to download from their Web page. This process is readily accessible, and easily completed. The Learning Company has even promised to attempt to add any textbook that is not already included in their listing.

Educational Value
Curriculum-based, interactive lessons give the student a comprehensive overview, providing questions, examples, and even directed feedback if it appears that the subject matter is not fully understood. The presentation is colorful and engaging, with key words appearing on the screen along with a small amount of animation. The user is always given time to pause and consider information, or have it repeated if it doesn’t quite make sense. More than a simple drill program, Grade Builder Algebra makes an excellent effort to actually teach the subject.

Kid Appeal
SuperKid’s student reviewers found Grade Builder Algebra's lessons to be intriguing and satisfying. They appreciated the clear manner in which new concepts are presented, and the illustrative questions that allow the student to test his or her comprehension. Bright graphics and pleasant, but never saccharine or condescending tutors make the lessons and games appealing to the junior-high and early high-school user.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Grade Builder Algebra 1 is an excellent resource for those who need additional instruction and skill-building or who wish to move ahead of the classroom in introductory algebra.

Education 4.7/5.0 Kid Appeal 4.5/5.0 Ease of Use 5.0/5.0
5=Excellent, 4=Good, 3=OK, 2=Weak

See the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Algebra software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1;Win95 System 7.0.1 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 486DX/66 or better 68040/25 or better, or PowerPC
Hard Drive Space 25 MB 25 MB
Memory (RAM) 8 MB (16 MB recommended) 16 MB
Graphics 256-color SVGA 256-color monitor
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Windows compatible Sound Manager 2.0
Other Needs speakers speakers

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