The Cruncher 2.0 - Spreadsheet Software Designed for Kids
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The Cruncher 2.0 is a spreadsheet program designed for students in grades three and up. Fun animation, sounds and six well-designed tutorial lessons give elementary and middle school students a simple way to learn about using spreadsheets.
Just because the program is designed for the younger crowd d'esn't mean that it is missing functionality. Twenty-three of the most commonly used spreadsheet functions such as Average, Sum, Maximum and trigonometric functions are included. The Cruncher 2.0 follows the standard form for creating equations used by other spreadsheet programs, so students can transfer their skills easily to Microsoft Excel or AppleWorks.
Charting features allow students to create bar, line, scatter and pie graphs easily. A preview window lets students see what the graph will look like before it is actually created, therefore giving them a way to experiment with different graph types and settings. However, unlike more advanced spreadsheet programs, students cannot edit the colors and fonts of their graphs.
One of the greatest features not found in other spreadsheet programs is the Show button. Students often don't understand the logic behind nested functions. By selecting a cell and clicking the Show button, students are given a step-by-step view as to how the computer performs the calculation required. Not only is this helpful in understanding functions, but it assists in making difficult math concepts clear.
For classroom projects, The Cruncher 2.0 has a built-in notebook feature that allows students to take notes and write observations without leaving the program. The notebook allows students to make style changes, but it d'es not include a spell check function. Fun animated stickers and sounds can be added to the notebook, which gives students a creative way to customize their work. Also included is Snapshot, a new command found under the File menu. By selecting this command, students can capture a portion of the screen to be saved as a Pict file. This allows for easy import of graphs into drawing and multimedia programs.
Knowledge Adventure has given teachers a head start in using spreadsheets in their classroom by including 20 complete lessons covering a variety of themes from Plant Growth to Probability. Many lessons include appropriate student handouts, extension activities and even HyperStudio connections for multimedia presentation ideas.
All in all, The Cruncher 2.0 is a great asset for any elementary or middle school software collection.
Michelle Bourgeois is Technology Coordinator at Little Flower School. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared in the 08/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.