America the Beautiful. (Middle/High School Software/Web Sites)

By Kurtz, Alice | Multimedia Schools, November-December 2001 | Go to article overview

America the Beautiful. (Middle/High School Software/Web Sites)


Kurtz, Alice, Multimedia Schools


Located online at http://go.grolier.com.

Source: Grolier Educational, 888/326-6546.

Access Fee: The subscription price is based on the combinations of Grolier databases in use and the size of the user population. As an add-on reference to other Grolier products, subscription prices start at $209.

Audience: Publisher recommends grades 4 and up; reviewer recommends 4th-6th grade students.

Format: Subscription Web site with text, graphics, multimedia.

System Requirements: PC: Pentium 90 or better with at least 32 MB RAM, 15-inch monitor with 800x600 resolution, and 16-bit color.

Macs: System 7.5 or better on PowerMac or higher; 15-inch monitor with 800x600 resolution, and "thousands of colors" selected.

America the Beautiful will run on Internet Explorer 4 and higher and Netscape Navigator 3.x and higher, but the publisher does not recommend running it on any Netscape 6.x browser.

Description: America the Beautiful Online is a spin-off of the America the Beautiful book series from Children's Press. Through text, photos, maps, and multimedia students access the geography, history, economics, government, culture, people, and places of the 50 states, Washington, DC, and major U.S. territories.

The site also provides timelines of state histories, interactive puzzles, and games to challenge students' knowledge about the states. A teacher segment provides learning strategies, suggested lessons, and projects. An almanac ties together up-to-date statistics and facts from each state.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: The Web site is accessed by a password log-on procedure. The home page loaded quickly. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: America the Beautiful allows students to easily research and learn about the United States and its territories. Students access information by clicking on the state of their choice from a large U.S. political map.

Each state page includes an Introduction, Fast Facts, multi-part History of the state, Geography, Economics, Culture, Government, Cities, a Spotlight that focuses on the most important features of the state, Profiles of famous people from the state, Timeline, a Word Find, and What Do You Know?

Each topic provides text with accompanying maps and illustrations or pictures. The text has limited links. For example, when reading about the Aleuts of Alaska, the only hot-linked word in the text was Inuit. In the description of Louisiana, the word "parish" wasn't hot-linked.

A dictionary and atlas are available at the bottom of each page for easy reference, but students do not usually take the time to look up a concept word. It is more likely, however, that they will click on a link.

Students also have the option of selecting three Internet links that provide more information about a selected state. The Maps and Media button provides a series of interactive maps including political, topographic, historical, natural resources, and economic maps, along with illustrations, photos, and a few multimedia panoramas.

Occasionally, the maps tended to be somewhat blurry. Each state has only one panorama or slide show and some states have none.

Print and e-mail are also options from each state page. Each state page also provides a Search-a-Word challenge and a quiz on facts about the state.

The site also contains a set of tabs across the top of each page that takes students to other resources. The U.S. Topics tab offers biographies of all of the U.S. presidents. It was a bit surprising, however, that these biographies weren't linked to the Presidential Libraries readily available online.

This tab also allows research on cities, historical sites, natural wonders, and famous places throughout the United States. Students can read about selected Native American tribes from this tab. There is one link here to an Internet source for more information on Native Americans. …

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