Save Pandas, Strike Gold on CD-Roms

By Lawrence J. Magid 1995, Los Angeles Times Syndicate | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 8, 1995 | Go to article overview

Save Pandas, Strike Gold on CD-Roms


Lawrence J. Magid 1995, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Thanks to my children, the Giant Panda, the African Elephant and the Snow Leopard will survive the threat of extinction. The kids also have solved all our family's financial problems by striking it rich in a Yukon gold mine.

Wishful thinking. I still have to work for a living and we all have to work to save endangered species, but Katherine, 10, and William, 8, have simulated these accomplishments, thanks to two delightful new CD-ROMs.

Saving animals on the verge of extinction is the province of Discovering Endangered Wildlife ($49.95), a new Windows CD-ROM from Lyriq International (800-433-4464 or 203-250-2070). The program, which was developed in cooperation with the National Wildlife Federation, challenges children to complete a series of tasks in order to save these and other animals.

It begins in the year 2090 with a preachy, but short, video where two citizens of the future explain that practices in "our time" have caused the extinction of various animals. But there's hope. They turn back the clock to 1995 and send us a miraculous device, an "interlink," that the kids can use in a last-ditch effort to save these creatures.

There is, of course, plenty of reference information on the animals but, for my kids, any program that just presents information is immediately labeled as boring or, worse, "yucky." To keep the kids' attention, the program presents a series of challenges - games, really - where the kids use information from the reference material to answer questions and solve puzzles.

One challenge is a jigsaw puzzle of each animal. Another is a word search game where kids use the mouse to circle names of animals. There also are places were you have to enter missing data based on what you've learned from the program's video and audio presentations. In other words, it's impossible to complete the game without learning something about these endangered animals.

Overall, the game respects the intelligence of the children by presenting them with useful information and challenging them with fun and interesting games. The program doesn't beat them over the head with environmental messages but does imply that something must be done to save the animals for future generations. …

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