Magazine article Technology & Learning

Pinball Science

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Pinball Science

Article excerpt

Platform: Mac/Win CD.

Emphasis: Basic physics.

Grade Level: 4-9.

Publisher: DK Interactive Learning,

New York, NY; 888-342-5357;

Retail Price: $19.95. School version: $49.95, including printed teacher's guide and two copies of the CD. Lab packs and site licenses are available.

David Macaulay's distinctive illustrations and humor (familiar to many from the CD The Way Things Work) bring fun and personality to the reinforcement of basic physics concepts in this engaging offering. A good accompaniment to classroom instruction, the product is basically a straightforward question-and-answer program, with some nicely done tongue-in-cheek animations and an arcade-style pinball game as a motivating reward. Energy, gravity, simple machines, measurement and related topics comprise the curriculum content.

The central challenge is for kids to answer a series of questions (at three levels of difficulty) in order to earn parts--pulleys, springs, gears, and so forth--they need to "build" their own on-screen pinball machines. When a user clicks on a picture of a faucet, for instance, a text window pops up with a related question that can be answered in a word or two--though it's picky about misspellings, plurals, etc. …

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