Math series adds four new titles

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The Toolfactory has released four new titles in its Math Explorer educational software series -- and all are Mac compatible.

"Each program teaches solid mathematical concepts, sprinkled with enough 3D graphics and sound effects to keep the students firmly entrenched in the learning objectives," Benjamin Ward of Toolfactory said. "It's hard to resist exploring math in virtual worlds with a pirate girl, jester or alien as your guide."

As with all of the CD-ROMs in the series, there are 12 interactive locations where students learn about topics such as addition, division, percents, number facts, statistical analysis, probability, measuring and symmetry. The first program in the Math Explorer series introduces students to a futuristic world where hands-on math activities can be found at every turn in the space-age Explorer Station. The stations let students do calculations, play with computers, collect data, do measurements and work with shapes. Students can program a robot to navigate a maze with an onscreen computer keypad, or create "percentage potions" in a chemistry lab.

Those who launch into Math Explorer: Number, will find themselves aboard a pirate ship with a pirate girl as their guide. Kids will explore math activities as they "sail" to sites in the jungle, cave and village. At the rope bridge, a cat with a patch over its eye instructs you to continue a number sequence in order to complete the bridge. When numbered planks are dragged to the correct place, the pirate girl hops across the bridge. Parrots animate another activity, where students click on the parrots perched on a number line, making them caw and fly away when the parrot in the right position is chosen.

In Maths Explorer: Shape and Space, students follow the bouncing purple hat of a jester into the rooms of a castle, to the tune of medieval pipes and flutes. In the pigeon loft, a grid of nine small doors reveals the eyes and beaks of pigeons behind them. When the pigeon keeper identifies the co-ordinates, the student must quickly click on the appropriate door before the pigeon appears. A slow response results in the pigeon popping out and gurgling teasingly at the student, while clicking on the door in time earns the student an egg. If all the eggs are collected before the time is up, the pigeon perched on the keeper's head does a celebratory leap and flaps its wings. This is one of several rooms in the games that teach about various geometric shapes.

In Maths Explorer: Data Handling, students board a space ship with a green alien and enter three different cultural epochs: Ancient Egypt, Rome and Aztec civilization. Kids can build a pictogram in an Egyptian tomb to graph the pharaoh's wealth of geese, cows, soldiers and ships. Fill out the pictogram in time to close the secret door before the mummy escapes the tomb. Other activities teach students about collecting data, probability, times tables, line graphs, pie charts and many more ways of handling data. As in all the programs in the series, interactive quizzes give kids a chance to test new skills.

There are always three levels of difficulty to choose from for each activity. The Learn About and Tell Me More options add depth to every investigation by giving students just the right amount of background information and important mathematical facts to think about in relation to the games and experiments, Ward said. Students can also take quizzes to test their new skills, or go to "Puzzle Posts "for more brain exercise before they leave a particular interactive location.

The Maths Explorer series hasn't been Carbonized for Mac OS X. It requires System 7.1 - 9.x, at least a 68040 processor, and 8MB of RAM. The single unit price for each title is US$69.95; you can get all four for $239.96. The Macs and Wintel versions are sold separately.

This story, "Math series adds four new titles" was originally published by PCWorld.

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