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problem solving software
This ambitious product, from the creators of the Thinkin' Things series, provides children with challenging activities to exercise their minds as it builds important learning skills.
The Sky Islands Festival is bursting with intrigue. Fourteen mysteries require solution, and chief investigator Joe Cluestoe needs additional brainpower to catch the culprits. Clues are disseminated through three island venues, each featuring a unique and challenging activity.
'Air Show Island' features an animated air show that children direct, following detailed instructions and using advanced organization and prioritization skills. On 'Rebus Island', kids solve word puzzles by stringing letters, pictures and sounds together. 'Stadium Island' challenges users to manipulate Fripples, loveable animated friends, so that they will move in certain preplanned ways, given unique sets of rules for each character's behavior.
As clues are earned, the user returns to Clue Central to review the case. Each clue includes information describing the perpetrator's personal traits, hobbies and lifestyle, and narrows the field of suspects until one remains who fits all the criteria. At this point the crime is solved and the user is congratulated for another job well-done.
The user's creative abilities can also be flexed with the program's 'explore' mode of play. Here, students experiment with a wide variety of tools to develop their own puzzles based on the program's activities. This option strengthens concept understanding and computer skills and may pique the interest of a future information-age expert.
Our tests indicate that the suggested age-range may be a bit on the young side. Users on the low end of the spectrum tended to become frustrated by some of the more difficult tasks, while students in their early teens (predominantly girls) found them fascinating and enjoyed the playful little Fribbles.
Parents reported that this program worked well as a team endeavor--a plus for families with limited computer resources. "My daughters actually worked on this program together," was one mother's amazed comment. "In our household that's a rarity."
Navigation is organized and straightforward, and help is ever-available. Each activity includes a "tours" option that provides a detailed explanation of the task, and many "hints" that subtly nudge the user in the appropriate direction.
PC: Win 3.1, Windows 95 or later, 486 Pentium or better, 66MHz or faster cpu, 7MB free hard drive space, 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), 640x480, 256 color monitor, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, Windows-compatible sound card.return to top of page
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