Sometimes computers make learning more fun! Scholastic, Inc. has taken the already-enjoyable Jean Fritz biography series and produced a CD-ROM that converts the information in each book into engaging animation and enjoyable activities. My review is based on What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?. Navigating through this software is simple even for the youngest user. Launching the program brings up a Learning Cube, which is basically a main menu in icon form. Artwork is used to remind the user of the period being studied; in this case the 27-segment cube looks like a crate constructed during the 1700's. The user can then choose from 9 topics about Ben Franklin: Early Years, Apprenticeship, In Philadelphia, Early Ideas, Inventions and Innovations, Electricity, In London, Declaration of Independence, and Later Years. Clicking on one of these topics brings up a Chapter Row containing 3 chapters. Select the first block to watch the animated presentation of this chapter, the second to read and hear this same chapter, or the third to play a game that relates to this chapter. The presentations and text are captivating, and the information seems accurate and worthwhile.
Minimum system requirements: PC: 486, 66MHz, Windows 95 or later, 16MB RAM, 10MB hard disk space, 640x480 display with 256 colors, 4X CD-ROM drive, sound card, mouse. For MAC: 68040 or Power Mac, System 7.5 or later, 6 MB Free RAM, 16MB RAM, 16MB hard disk space, 640 x 480 display with 256 colors, 2X CD-ROM drive, mouse. Please note that some customers have had difficulty loading the software with Windows XP, so if you are working with an XP, you may want to avoid this software.
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