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Ages 8 to 12

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value - 4.6 Kid Appeal - 4.2 Ease of Use - 4.8

Zap! Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Zap! allows kids in Grades 3 through 6 to learn about and experiment with light, sound and electricity.

As the program commences, the user is invited to guest direct the next Zap! Concert, which is to be held in the world-famous Wonder Dome, and featuring performances by eccentric stars: Blaze, Riff and Surge. Alas, in a scenario that would appear to be the rule rather than the exception, Surge admits to having attracted lightening, which hit the control system and shorted-out the special components installed for the show. Last-minute repairs are needed, and everyone is enlisted to help, including the Guest Director.

Three unique learning environments, including the Laser Lab, the SoundWave Studio and the ElectroLoft, present, explain and explore the fundamentals of light, sound and electricity. Children work on many levels in each of these environments, experimenting with scientific principles, solving problems, and collecting the components and controls needed to direct their own Zap! performances.

Educational Value
Zap! does a very good job presenting and explaining the science involved in the three highlighted topics. It also exposes children to the basics of the scientific method, encouraging them to hypothesize, experiment, observe and deduce. Two learning modes are available in each environment--the Question & Answer Mode, in which the child follows a guided learning path, moving sequentially through multiple levels in each topic, and the Explore Mode for undirected experimentation and learning.

The Sci-Clopedia, a reference tool filled with interesting facts about light, sound, and electricity, features colorful illustrations and animations as well as a Notebook that kids can fill with personal thoughts and observations. Also included are bonus articles from the World Book Encyclopedia.

Program-activated grow slides permit the user to advance to higher levels as s/he masters each section. This option can be controlled manually, as can the ability to fully access concert controls without first earning them through successful completion of included activities.

Kid Appeal
Our kid testers had fun with this program, and noted that it significantly helped solidify concepts learned in school. Although only moderately enthusiastic about the three main Zap! characters, they oozed approval of the more secondary "hatching Flashbots" and dancing Boogiebots.

Throughout the guided learning sections of Zap! the cast delivers corny jokes and performs mini-skits all of which fell flat with our young panel. They half-heartedly snickered for the first few, then thankfully discovered that they could skip the rest with a mouse-click.

Ease of Use / Install
Zap! installs without difficulty on Windows 95.

Loaded with detailed explanations and instructions, this program helps take the mystic out of science, opening up for kids a discipline that is at once fascinating, mysterious, and a crucial part of our daily lives.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Zap! is at once intriguing and informative. It familiarizes kids with basic scientific principles, reinforces concepts learned in school, and builds critical thinking and problem solving skills.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other Science software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or later, 66 MHz or faster cpu, 5 MB free hard drive space, 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), 640x480, 256-color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, Windows-compatible sound card

Mac: 7.0.1 or higher, 68040 or faster cpu, or Power PC, 8 MB RAM, 16 MB recommended for Power PC, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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