Software: Focus on Math and Science

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MindTwister Math
Edmark
Redmond, WA
(800) 691-2958
www.edmark.com

Math Blaster Ages 5-7
Knowledge Adventure
Torrance, CA
(800) 545-7677
www.knowledgeadventure.com

MathStar
Learning Advantage
Carson, CA
(800) 381-0381
www.learningadvantage.com

Total Class Math
SRA
DeSoto, TX
(888) 772-4543
www.sra4kids.com

Summit Math Grades 6-8
The Denali Project
Okemos, MI
(877) 347-1629
www.denaliproject.com

StudyWorks Mathematics Deluxe
MathSoft
Cambridge, MA
(617) 557-1017
www.mathsoft.com

Mastering Algebra I: Course 2
Riverdeep Interactive
Learning
Cambridge, MA
(800) 854-7259
www.riverdeep.net

Algebra Assistant
Pre-Calculus Assistant
Calculus Assistant
Mathpert
Santa Clara, CA
(800) 361-1001
www.mathpert.com

Maple 6
Waterloo Maple
Waterloo, Ontario
(519) 747-2373
www.maplesoft.com

I CAN Learn
JRL Enterprises, Inc.
New Orleans, LA
(888) 263-1390
www.icanlearn.com

Everglades Journey 2.0
Trek Interactive Media
Sarasota, FL
(941) 365-3265
www.youngnaturalist.com

Biology Live!: Algae
CLEARVUE/eav
Chicago, IL
(800) 253-2788
www.clearvue.com

Bean There Grown That
Curious Company
Cardiff, CA
(760) 942-7450
www.curiousco.com

Science Gateway
Science Explorer 3.04
Logal Software, Inc.
Cambridge, MA
(800) 564-2587
www.logal.net

DataStudio
PASCO
Roseville, CA
(800) 772-8700
www.pasco.com

EM Field 6
Physics Academic Software
Raleigh, NC
(800) 955-8275
http://pcep.physics.ncsu.edu/pas

 

 

 

Math and science have always been cornerstones of any good education. However, students can often be frightened by the complicated numbers and sometimes difficult concepts associated with these subjects. Fortunately, many new technologies exist to help engage students in these important and fascinating subject areas. This month’s Focus On examines several such math and science products. We begin with math, and will work our way up from titles for young learners all the way to algebra and calculus.

MindTwister Math from Edmark provides an engaging, curriculum-based review of math concepts for grades 3-4 in a fast-paced, multiplayer game show format. While challenging themselves or their classmates, students get practice with basic math facts like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and decimals.

The program is designed to help students build math-fact fluency, practice mental computation, sharpen estimation skills and solve word problems. It encourages the use of problem solving skills like analyzing, sequencing, deducting and visualizing, as well as using the process of elimination to identify multiple solutions. As students practice manipulating numbers in their heads, they can develop a keen number sense and gain confidence in their ability to solve problems, analyze data, and think and communicate mathematically.

From Knowledge Adventure, Math Blaster Ages 5-7 tests young students’ math skills during a visit to the Intergalactic Zoo. With five levels of early math content, over 150 lessons and more than 1,000 problems and puzzles, the program reinforces math basics. Beyond adding, subtracting, counting, measuring, sorting and telling time, students use their imaginations and their creativity to create number stories and solve math puzzles. Completion of activities such as Egg Drop, Bug Off, Feed the Woozerps, Knock-a-Clock and Gnat Zapper is rewarded with printable animal cards.

By working through these activities, students enhance their abilities in things like counting whole numbers, counting in number patterns, understanding “greater than” and “less than,” measuring and comparing length, weight and temperature, sorting simple and complex sets, learning addition and subtraction facts, solving number stories and counting money.

Learning Advantage’s highly portable MathStar is designed to provide elementary school students with interactive, motivational math skills practice without the need for a computer. It allows students to practice math skills in each basic operational category (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals and percentages). Each category includes eight levels of difficulty that motivate students to move to the next level while allowing them to progress at their own pace.

The device displays a mathematical problem on a high-contrast LCD screen, and students respond on the full-equation calculator keyboard. The student receives immediate feedback once the answer is entered, keeping them involved and motivated. After ten questions are answered correctly, MathStar displays the elapsed time along with messages of encouragement. It can also be programmed by the teacher to allow for student assessment. Teacher programmed quizzes hold up to 30 problems.

SRA’s Total Class Math delivers over 200 full-motion, video-enhanced lessons covering a wide range of topics and developmental levels. It is a K-6 program that complements most traditional print lessons. Fourteen lesson strands based on National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards cover topics like addition and subtraction, decimals, division, fractions, geometry, measurement, multiplication, numeration, problem solving, shapes and more.

The teacher controls the digital video using a computer. However, students see full-motion, real-time video on the classroom television. The teacher also has full access to onscreen support materials like lesson plans, activity suggestions, assessment tools and more.

The Denali Project’s Summit Math Grades 6-8 includes over 225 activities that emphasize the importance of mathematics in everyday life. Strands of instruction include whole numbers, measurement, fractions, decimals, geometry, statistics, probability and algebraic ideas. The program’s management system gives detailed reports to instructors about objectives mastered, time spent on objectives and overall progress of each student. It also provides proficiency-based assessment embedded within activities, as well as unobtrusive branching between concepts.

MathSoft’s StudyWorks Mathematics Deluxe delivers in-depth coverage of junior high and high school level math in an engaging manner. Its interactive environment is based on a three-step approach that enables students to understand fundamental math concepts through multimedia presentations and diagrams. The program also helps students learn how to solve problems through guided exercises, and then reinforces these concepts using hundreds of problems. A deluxe activity pack includes a 200-page workbook, puzzles and games, and 3D math animations to view with the included 3D glasses. Students are also allowed to take and submit assessment tests for each math subject offered. These are evaluated and returned to students online.

An important and sometimes daunting challenge that all students must face is that first algebra class. The following programs can ease students into the major concepts of algebra and calculus while helping teachers provide an answer to that eternal question, “Where  am I going to use this in real life?”

The fourth title in Riverdeep’s Destination MATH suite, Mastering Algebra I: Course 2, lets students experience multiple representations of algebraic concepts through the use of real-world applications. They explore mathematics by investigating non-linear relations and functions using tables, graphs and geometric models.

In five comprehensive, entertaining modules, the program covers rational and irrational numbers, polynomial expressions, quadratic functions and equations, radical equations and functions, rational expressions, equations and functions. It also covers graphical displays of data, including stem-and-leaf plots, box plots, scatter plots and linear best-fit graphs. In module 5, for example, students examine winning sprint times for women and long distance times for men in various Olympic games to construct and analyze data displays.

Available for Windows and Mac, the Destination MATH suite provides a carefully sequenced, comprehensive curriculum designed around performance objectives that reflect national, state and local mathematics standards. Each title is comprised of multiple objective-based sessions so teachers can quickly make assignments that match their curriculum goals with individual instruction, small collaborative groups or whole class presentations.

Teachers are able to provide their students with a means to explore and review higher math concepts at their own speed and in their own way with programs from Mathpert Software. The three programs, Algebra Assistant (introductory to intermediate), Pre-Calculus Assistant (advanced algebra and trigonometry) and Calculus Assistant (first and second semester) help students gain insight into the problem-solving process. With these programs, emphasis is placed on figuring out a problem step-by-step rather than simply getting to the answer.

When a problem is highlighted, a pop-up menu of math operations that can be applied to the highlighted section appears. Students can then solve the problem using methods of their own choosing. The program d'es not allow students to take mathematically unsound steps, offering hints and showing plausible steps. To see the relationship between symbols and graphs, students use the multimedia features of the program to create individual graphs that correspond to the problems. Teachers can select from over 6,700 Mathpert problems, can edit the problems to target the exact course content they want, or can create their own problem sets. The programs focus on the process of problem solving and are packaged with the cumulative nature of mathematics in mind. Pre-Calculus Assistant includes the full Algebra Assistant program, and Calculus Assistant includes both preceding programs.

Waterloo Maple’s Maple 6 is a fully integrated, analytical computation system that is available on a number of platforms including Windows, Macintosh, UNIX and Linux. Significant new features include high-performance NAG computational linear algebra solvers, IEEE 754 compliant floating point computations, connectivity to Microsoft Excel 2000 and language and UI enhancements for matrix computations. The new version is also able to export to more data formats, including RTF and DXF.

Performance improvements will be of benefit in many key technical areas, such as signal and image processing, dynamic simulation and mathematical modeling. Also new to the program are several end user features in Maple 6’s programming language and large-scale floating point data handling. The user interface has also been upgraded to ensure that students and teachers can easily access and utilize the program’s features.

Finishing out the Math portion of this month’s Focus On is a system that strives to assist teachers in math class management as well as instruction. I CAN Learn from JRL Enterprises is a complete math education system that resides on 25 CD-ROMs and manages things like homework assignments, lesson presentation, group projects, grade evaluations and much more. Students are able to work at their own pace and teachers are freed up to work more on a one-on-one level with their students.

The system is made up of three components: Classroom Explorer, Courseware and Enrichment. Explorer is the management program that runs on a Microsoft NT Server. It enables courses to include graphic illustrations, 3D animations, audio instructions and full-screen video. It is also the teacher’s interface to the system. Courseware contains the actual curriculum. A library of lesson materials provides multiple lessons in a variety of teaching styles. The teacher sets proficiency levels that students work to attain. Finally, Enrichment offers complementary multimedia applications to supplement the instruction found in the Courseware segment. It provides access to resources on the Internet and even has the ability to deliver university PC-based programs for college credit.

Moving on to science, we begin with a few titles for young learners who are just discovering the wonders to be found in the natural world.

Young students can learn important concepts in natural sciences, ecology, geology and more with a series of National Park Journeys from Trek Interactive Media. The photographic journeys are led by a young naturalist named Ben and are available on Windows/Mac CD-ROMs.

Everglades Journey 2.0 visits the subtropical home of alligators and Florida panthers. Students can explore the three-foot deep, 50-mile-wide River of Grass, learn about threatened and endangered species, can'e through the tunnels of a mangrove forest and discover an ancient mahogany hammock. In Yellowstone Journey, they visit the wilds of Northwest Wyoming, examine steaming geysers, see the fire-scarred habitat of elk and bear and explore the Yellowstone River. Finally, Grand Canyon Journey visits this wonder of erosion, going back through geologic time and also studying the artifacts of ancient Native Americans.

With a strong base of scientific knowledge planted in the early grades, we move forward to higher-level science instruction. The next two titles demonstrate some interesting approaches to biology, ecology and other life sciences.

Biology Live!: Algae from CLEAR-
VUE/eav is designed to help junior and high school students explore these often under-appreciated life forms. The CD explores algae’s origins, structure and biology, as well as the role these ancient and diverse life forms play in our planetary ecosystem. An engaging slide show and tutorial cover the many different forms of algae on earth and discuss the different ways they survive, thrive and reproduce.

Special features of the CD include a custom playlist where educators can go through an index of the program’s contents and select the portions they want to use in class. It will then play those lessons only. In this way, teachers can streamline the delivery of the information and customize it to better fit their class structure.

Also included is a quiz section that can be utilized after completing the CD. Students answer multiple-choice questions relating to the lessons learned. After the quiz is completed, the program notes incorrect answers and compiles its own playlist of lessons needed to address those incorrect answers. In that way, the students receive a customized “review” to help them in areas not fully comprehended.

Curious Company’s Bean There, Grown That is a full botany lab in a box. It combines a real seed-growing kit with a CD-based virtual laboratory. It helps teach students in grades three to six concepts in biology, the scientific method, ecology and more. The lab kit includes everything needed to complete a ten-day seed growth experiment.

Science topics like photosynthesis, osmosis, ecology and seed anatomy are covered in the computer-guided real world project. Students experiment with germinating and growing bean plants, with instruction and reference material available on the CD-ROM. With the help of the character “Nerdy Lab Assistant,” science students conduct an experiment in the included petri dish. Then, using the software component, they record observations and perform further analysis.

Over 45 minutes of video demonstration and instruction are contained on the CD. The AutoScribe online journal feature prompts the student to enter observations and measurements. The program then saves the information and formats it into a report, complete with text, graphics and photos. Other features include the Glossiraptor, a glossary of over 100 terms related to the activities, and the InfoDrive, which provides additional scientific material, facts and quizzes.

The final three items in our Focus On would be well at home in any high school or college science classroom, proving useful in areas such as biology, chemistry and physics.

Logal Software’s Science Gateways are the latest in their series of science simulations. Students are able to experience key concepts found in high school biology and chemistry classrooms and laboratories. With engaging simulations and interactive investigations, students can manipulate variables and instantly see the results. For example, learners can perform a genetic cross that generates hundreds of virtual rabbits in an instant. Each activity follows a proven four-step approach in which students gather data, analyze data, tie experimental data, questions and vocabulary to the concept, and finally extend and apply the concept for further exploration.

Available over the Internet from Logal, Science Explorer 3.04 provides teachers with coverage of a wide array of key scientific concepts in biology, chemistry and physics. Here again, students can manipulate variables with instant results, and can also collect data, draw conclusions, see relationships, hypothesize and design an experiment to test their hypothesis. Each unit has three levels of activities: Explorations, Core Inquiries and Independent Investigations. Teachers have the option of choosing the activities that best suit their curriculum needs, student learning styles and ability levels.

In an effort to connect a computer to hands-on experiments in the classroom, PASCO has designed their DataStudio electronic measurement software to collect, display, store and analyze scientific data. This easy-to-learn, flexible technology fits into biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, general science and math classrooms. It’s compatible with all ScienceWorkshop interfaces and sensors.

A simple page layout feature works like an electronic lab notebook with text, pictures and live DataStudio displays. Real-time active features facilitate the use of all the tools on a display (such as curve fitting, annotation, scale-to-fit, etc.) while collecting data. The data is editable, so extraneous data points can be flagged and removed from calculations without being discarded from the original data set. Other features include data modeling, graphical analysis and import/export functions.

Moving over to physics, EM Field 6 from Physics Academic Software helps students visualize electric fields produced by point and line charges, as well as magnetic fields produced by current-carrying wires. A mouse-driven graphical interface makes it easy to view electric and magnetic field vectors, directional arrows and field lines. Students are able to study different aspects of electric potential, including equipotential surfaces and potential differences.

A combination of features facilitates the exploration of Gauss’s law and Ampere’s law as they pertain to user-specified charge and current configurations. Also of interest are electric and magnetic field vectors that update in real time as users drag a charge or current. In addition, the program contains a charge search game that challenges students to use their newfound knowledge to determine the locations and magnitudes of hidden charges and currents.


—Jim Schneider

jschneider@thejournal.com



Contact Information

 

MindTwister Math
Edmark
Redmond, WA
(800) 691-2958
www.edmark.com

X@XOpenTag002

Math Blaster Ages 5-7
Knowledge Adventure
Torrance, CA
(800) 545-7677
www.knowledgeadventure.comX@XCloseTag002

X@XOpenTag003

MathStar
Learning Advantage
Carson, CA
(800) 381-0381
www.learningadvantage.com

X@XCloseTag003

X@XOpenTag004

Total Class Math
SRA
DeSoto, TX
(888) 772-4543
www.sra4kids.comX@XCloseTag004

X@XOpenTag005

Summit Math Grades 6-8
The Denali Project
Okemos, MI
(877) 347-1629
www.denaliproject.comX@XCloseTag005

X@XOpenTag006

StudyWorks Mathematics Deluxe
MathSoft
Cambridge, MA
(617) 557-1017
www.mathsoft.com

X@XCloseTag006

X@XOpenTag007

Mastering Algebra I: Course 2
Riverdeep Interactive
Learning
Cambridge, MA
(800) 854-7259
www.riverdeep.netX@XCloseTag007

X@XOpenTag008

Algebra Assistant
Pre-Calculus Assistant
Calculus Assistant
Mathpert
Santa Clara, CA
(800) 361-1001
www.mathpert.com

X@XCloseTag008

X@XOpenTag009

Maple 6
Waterloo Maple
Waterloo, Ontario
(519) 747-2373
www.maplesoft.comX@XCloseTag009

X@XOpenTag010

I CAN Learn
JRL Enterprises, Inc.
New Orleans, LA
(888) 263-1390
www.icanlearn.com

X@XCloseTag010

X@XOpenTag011

Everglades Journey 2.0
Trek Interactive Media
Sarasota, FL
(941) 365-3265
www.youngnaturalist.com

X@XCloseTag011

X@XOpenTag012

Biology Live!: Algae
CLEARVUE/eav
Chicago, IL
(800) 253-2788
www.clearvue.com

X@XCloseTag012

X@XOpenTag013

Bean There Grown That
Curious Company
Cardiff, CA
(760) 942-7450
www.curiousco.com

X@XCloseTag013

X@XOpenTag014

Science Gateway
Science Explorer 3.04
Logal Software, Inc.
Cambridge, MA
(800) 564-2587
www.logal.net

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X@XOpenTag015

DataStudio
PASCO
Roseville, CA
(800) 772-8700
www.pasco.com

X@XCloseTag015

X@XOpenTag016

EM Field 6
Physics Academic Software
Raleigh, NC
(800) 955-8275
http://pcep.physics.ncsu.edu/pas

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 X@XCloseTag017

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This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.

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