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Teaching middle or high school students who want to explore the field of Engineering? Looking for real-life, historical applications when teaching statics, weirs and water flow, force balance and trajectory? What better way than to transport your students back in time to see historical examples of civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering at work. With Time Engineers, users travel back in time to Giza, Egypt to help King Menkaure build a pyramid and irrigate the Nile River Valley. Transport students back to the 1940s to help design an American submarine with the optimal engines, motor and battery power to escape from German U-Boats, and design radar sites to protect London from German planes. Escape back to Medieval Angers, France to learn how to operate drawbridges and launch catapults.
Time Engineers starts in a school library, inviting the student to click on open-book descriptions of civil, electric, and mechanical engineering. The student is then guided to a confidential file that gives instructions on where to find the Time Pod and how to get it running. To enter the high-security warehouse and turn on the power source for the Time Pod, the student must solve various problems using Binary numbers and Boolean logic.
The visual effects when boosting up the Time Pod for space travel are impressive. The student can choose a historical destination, enter the Time Pod, travel through a worm hole, emerge in another time period, and follow the arrows to each interactive exercise. Or, the teacher can simply use a pull-down menu to jump temporal realms and skip virtual time travel altogether.
There are two interactive lessons in each historical period. At each one, an audio commentary provides instructions and invites the student to click on the info button for further information. For example, the info section on building the pyramid is pages long explaining everything from Free Body Diagrams to the role of friction and gravity. While the info section is commendable for prompting the students to start thinking about details, like hidden costs of transporting clay if one decides that clay is more effective that sand, it can at times be overwhelming (especially to Middle School students, who seem to be the target age group). Again, using the pyramid lesson as an example, the info section explains nine mathematical formulas -- from how to find the friction force to total cost.
For students that are overwhelmed, or perhaps not interested in the math and physics that describe the solutions, the interactive lessons can be solved using the venerable trial and error method. For example, in the pyramid lesson, without reading the info section the student may merely choose between sand and clay, play around with the ramp length, and choose a number of laborers. After clicking 'build,' a simulation is run and a total cost is projected. All the lessons can be solved using this guess-and-check method, while exposing the student to the underlying engineering concepts.
The multidisciplinary approach to learning is well developed in Time Engineers. When else can students learn history while simultaneously applying math and science concepts?
The 3-D virtual time travel and navigation through each historical period is extremely captivating. (Perhaps the first time Time Engineers is introduced in the classroom or computer lab, turn off the lights and, as a class, enter the warehouse and power up the Time Pod -- the visual effects are worth it. Then simply instruct students in pairs or small groups on a computer of their own, to choose whichever historical period/lesson you want and set them loose. Come together at the end of class to talk about which scenarios worked best and why.)
There are visual simulations -- farmland that floods if too much water is released and drawbridges that collapse if not enough counterweight is provided -- that make trial-and-error learning all the more engaging.
No problems were encountered during SuperKids review process. Time Engineers can be run directly from the CD-ROM or after installing the program.
A solid Good . . . has the potential for Great but not quite there. What could be better? If the info section actually guided you in engineering historical projects the most effective way, after the user developed his/her own solution.
PC: Windows® 95/98/2000/XP/ME or Windows NT, 166 MHz or faster cpu, 24 MB RAM, 8X or faster CD-ROM, sound card . br>return to top of page
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