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It's not always easy to encourage middle-school aged kids to delve into the world of science -- especially when they can't be lured with hands-on experimentation. They're too old to be distracted from the reality of their lessons with cute storylines and cartoon animation.
In Virtual Physics Escape from Braindeath, Cubic Science realizes this, and low-keys the "pretend" aspect of the CD-ROM, while engaging students with virtual experimentation, fascinating information, and challenging exercises. The result is a learning program that slowly and methodically reveals the inherent fun in learning science.
Virtual Physics opens with a scene that looks like a clip from the X-Files. A spaceship lands somewhere in "Downtown USA" and a lone figure is abducted. The user has become a 'guest' of the alien 'Spring-horns'. They have traveled to earth to determine the worthiness of the human race to join their empire. As their prime subject, the student is encouraged to "fill (his or her) brain". This is done by performing exercises and experiments, viewing tutorials and videos, and undertaking practice problems designed to solidify and review newly acquired knowledge.
Left alone in a sealed room, the inquisitive user discovers a note left by a previous "guest". The Spring-horn's have not been entirely honest about their plans. A timely escape is vital, to prevent the aliens from succeeding with their evil brain-drain plot. The handily available escape-pod requires a key which can be acquired only by completing each of 22 learning sections in the program, each section earning a piece of the key.
Virtual Physics includes an easily accessible glossary of scientific terms.
"I didn't think I would understand the part about the different kinds of waves, but it's really not that hard!" was one student's comment. Another reported, "I think this program will help me with what I'm learning in school".
Repeat usage was unexpectedly strong, even among some of our youngest testers, whe were initially hesitant to tackle something as formidable sounding as "physics."
PC: Windows 3.1, 95 or NT, 75 MHz or faster cpu, 12 MB RAM, 16-bit graphics card, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, Sound cardreturn to top of page
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