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Review CornerSoftware
Discovery Channel School: Science Collection CD-ROMs
Rating: Rating
The Bottom Line
Each CD-ROM in this science collection designed for school use provides students with an up-close and interactive look at science in the real world. These titles will engage students with quality Discovery Channel video segments, multimedia tools, and innovative, thought-provoking activities.
Ages: 10-14  Subject: Science  Brand: Discovery Channel School
Review Sections: Product Overview  Entertainment Value  Design  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Dollar Value
image Product Overview
Designed for schools, these CD-ROMs bring the high-quality science learning of Discovery Channel to the computer screen. There are three series in this science collection — Earth, Physical, and Life Sciences — with CD-ROMs each devoted to a specific subject within these branches, and designed to supplement middle grade curriculum. Each title features gorgeous video segments in QuickTime format, complete with documentary footage, as well as reference tools, and a full set of activities that engage children in experiments and other explorations. Multimedia tools are available for preparing slide shows, and a comprehensive and valuable Teacher's Guide is included on each disk. Based on National Science Education Standards, these programs include content that will help support teachers' curricular goals.

The media component of each program is found in the Theater where students view 5 engaging videos, allowing them to see how science works in the real world. As children watch the videos, they can take notes in a printable onscreen journal.

Students head over to the Laboratory for activities that not only help them remember the facts they've gathered from the videos and personal research, but that also require them to think about and expand their newfound knowledge. Children demonstrate their understanding of the particular science topic at hand through hands-on explorations and activities, including Brain Teasers that consists of multiple-choice questions with hints and a point system. We love the activity containing Venn diagrams that challenge students to compare and contrast, for example, the subjects of astrology and astronomy, or determine the differences and similarities of crocodiles and alligators.

Reference tools included take the form of World Book Encyclopedia articles and, if your school is connected to the Internet, a link to discoveryschool.com for online help and quizzes. This section includes a searchable index and extensive help options.

Multimedia tools are available to students — and teachers — for preparing original slide shows complete with sound effects (such as applause) and music soundtracks. This utility is so easy to use that creating nice-looking shows is almost effortless, thus freeing up time for students to focus on the quality of content in their slide show presentations.

Each program offers a handy Teacherís Guide on the disk. These guides include management suggestions for different classroom computer set-ups (single-computer, several computers, or computer labs), sample pre-viewing and post-viewing questions, answer keys, teacher resources (including worksheets and web-site links), and more.

We took a look at 3 titles from the series: Reptiles, The Universe, and Magnetism. Each follows the same basic format.

In Reptiles, students are introduced to the anatomy, behavior, and habitats of various reptiles. Students learn what characteristics make snakes the most efficient hunters in nature, the special adaptations of reptiles (such as the turtleís shell), and more.

In The Universe program, children explore our fascinating universe, learn about its celestial bodies, and view videos that explore topics ranging from the ancient Mayan astronomers to the search for extraterrestrial life in modern times. One activity entitled Investigations requires students to classify stars according to their characteristics.

The Magnetism CD-ROM allows students to explore the impact of the force of magnetism in our everyday lives, to discover the relationship between magnetism and migratory behavior of various organisms, and consider its impact on technology and The Information Age as we know it. In the What If? activity, for example, students are required to stretch their thinking and use prediction skills to consider the effect "magnetic reversal" would have on earth.

Other titles include: Volcanoes, Weather and Climate, Oceans, Solar System, Space Exploration, History of Earth, Conservation of Natural Resources, Rocks and Minerals, Earthquakes, Land and Water, Electricity, Elements, Forces and Gravity, Light, Nuclear Energy, States of Matter, Heat, Sound, Chemistry, Bacteria, Genetics, Mammals, Viruses, Evolution, Birds, Ecology, Human Biology, Plants, Cells, Fish and Amphibians, Insects.

This CD-ROM collection will help bring your students to new levels of understanding. In the process, they build confidence in their ability to work with new technology in order to achieve their particular goals. The activities and material presented, while aligned with educational standards, go beyond typical textbook fare. Students draw on higher thinking and science skills to collect data, analyze and extend their findings, and draw conclusions.

Skills Covered
observation, analysis, higher-order thinking, creative thinking, critical thinking, writing, science skills (such as comparing, contrasting, data collection, analyzing, drawing conclusions, classifying, etc)

Educational Value
These CD-ROMs provide rich opportunities for learning, covering science topics in depth with high-quality materials. Students articulate their understanding in a variety of ways — through listening, reading, writing, and oral presentations (depending on the set-up). As such, language arts and communications skills are developed as children absorb and truly understand the science material presented. The activities are innovative and extend far beyond the simple regurgitation of facts. In Eyewitness, for example, students are required to observe a video clip then, in lieu of being quizzed on its content, they are asked to come up with original questions for additional study.

Entertainment Value
The video segments included in this program are taken from Discovery Channelís video archives and are designed to engage and inspire students to think about the world around them.

Students and teachers should have no problems navigating these CD-ROMs. A main menu screen is presented and clear navigational icons are available on each screen, making it easy to travel from one section to the next. The tool provided to create slide shows is exceptionally easy to use.

Dollar Value
Each CD-ROM is available individually for $49.95 US. Different pricing options are available, as well as packages that combine CD-ROMs, videos, and other Discovery Channel School educational products. Note that this is not a networked product and is available in lab packs of 5.

Released: 2000
Reviewed: November 2000