One Small Square Seashore begins with an interesting thesis - no matter where you are, there are a multitude of nature's secrets to explore, and unlock. While the point may be debatable, its certainly true of the seashore.
The program is built around a main viewing screen that offers the ability to rotate and zoom in on a small 3-D square of seashore (surprise!). The view can be changed to reflect day or night time, and a rocky or sandy beach. Life forms within the scene can be clicked on to produce close-ups and additional information - and frequently also include nice video clips.
Additional sections offer suggested experiments that can be printed and taken along on field trips, a very nice journal capability that allows the easy incorporation of snapshots from the program, and a set of four game activities.
Ease of Install / Use
Seashore installed without difficulty on our Mac test machines - simply insert the CD and click on the icon. Installation on one of our PC's, however, proved more difficult. Inserting the CD, we followed the instructions, and entered setup.exe. The installer crashed shortly thereafter without completing the installation, citing a "Win32S Error." A non-tollfree call to Virgin's technical support line led us to a voice mail system, where we left a message which was never returned. Fortunately, we found some help in the readme.txt file on the disk, which suggested that we temporarily disable 32bit disk access while installing the software.
Once installed, Seashore is simple to navigate - none of our parent, teacher, or kid reviewers reported any difficulties using the program.
Seashore is designed to provide an in-depth look at the sandy and rocky beach ecosystems. The program can be utilized in several ways. Most of our young reviewers chose to randomly explore the contents of the program. It is also possible to follow a more directed approach, selecting a topic from the index, and then exploring a series of chapter views.
Proxy Parent Value
This is SuperKids' measure of how well a program captures and holds the attention of its intended audience. Seashore received widely differing scores on this measure, doing very well in our teacher's school-use assessment, and mediocre scores, at best, with our home reviewers.
This dichotomy was captured by the teacher who wrote: "I think the program offers a great supplement for marine biology studies... but my students mentioned that they would become bored after using it a few times." This sentiment was echoed by a parent, who noted that, "although there are some highlights (like the journal and the video clips), overall it is slow, tedious, and elementary."
Our parent, teacher and kid reviewers all felt that Seashore was best suited for children no older than eight. Older children expected more reading, and greater information than the program provided.
A good classroom supplement for young marine biology students, but with limited appeal to older students, or for at-home use.
|Operating System||Windows 3.1, Windows95||System 7.0 or higher|
|CPU Type and Speed||486/25 or faster||68030/33 or faster|
|Hard Drive Space|
|Memory (RAM)||8 MB||8 MB|
|Graphics||SVGA 256 color, Windows compatible video card||13" 256 color monitor|
|Audio||100% Sound Balster compatible sound card|
|Other Needs||MPC compatible keyboard and mouse|