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Software Review - Science Genius: Solar System Explorer - Mindscape/Focus
An attractively priced piece of software aimed at making find out about space more fun for Key Stage 2 (8 to 11-year-olds) in the UK. The idea is simple but effective - put across some basic space science points in interactive onscreen experiments, 100 of them in all. This includes everything from why rockets are pointed to why objects in space don't crash into the ground. You can also print off "hands-on-experiment" sheets, though the hands-on possibilities with space science are obviously more indirect than those in the companion Virtual Laboratory CD-ROM.
The look, as suggested by the cover, is colourful and features chunky animations, which are quite effective if not up to modern video game standard.
There is no doubt that this software does its job effectively - the only thing I wonder is how entertaining it really is in the home. It might work better in the classroom - but if you've the patience, it may well give your little ones that extra scientific nudge, and certainly supports the national curriculum. Of the two, this might appeal more in the home than the virtual lab (though this depends on the interests of the children involved).
Windows Me/2000/XP/x64 only.
Reviewed by Brian Clegg
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Last update 05 June 2007