Most parents are familiar with the outstanding GeoSafari electronic learning toys. Educational Insights has brought the educational fun of these learning aids to the computer platform. The result is a CD-ROM with exceptional appeal and value. GeoSafari Knowledge Pad: The Plato Collection is packed with self-paced quizzes that are ideal for enrichment to learning in a home setting. There are eight categories of questions and quizzes offered, each of which is broken down into 12 subtopics. The main categories of quizzes are:
- Our Planet
- People and Nature
- Once Upon a Time
- Art and Culture
- Shapes and Symbols
- Sport and Leisure
The program's 96 activities present diverse and exciting opportunities for kids to boost their general knowledge. Children are required to drag-and-drop labels onto the main board in order to accumulate points. The screenshot pictured above shows an activity in which kids label the pictured insects with insect names from the scrambled list. Kids can also click on an individual insect, like the swallowtail butterfly, to see another beautiful photo and to read a description. Other activities include matching a person (or persons) with famous quotations, labelling photos of monuments from around the world like the Taj Mahal and Stonehenge, and identifying animals according to their special "champion" characteristics (such as which animal is the "long-jump champion" or the "biggest animal"). This style of quiz lends itself to rich and diverse possibilities for learning, and the program clearly takes advantage of these opportunities!
Experimenting with answers is fineafter a few repeated wrong answers, the program provides the correct one. Children set up their games by choosing the categories and subtopics or by letting the program generate its own mix of activities for a session. Children can also select whether they want bonus questions for their game. These questions add some excitement to the game, providing opportunities to earn extra points and adding the extra challenge of responding within a time limit.
Fact quizzes can be valuable for reinforcing information children have been exposed to, as well as for teaching new facts. This program goes beyond simply quizzing and drilling children with its glossaries and hotspots that provide opportunities to explore areas of interest a little further. The exposure to a large variety of topics might inspire some children to develop interests in new subjects.
The presentation of this program is extra special. The interface is designed like an electronic pad, and the graphics are clean and crisp. Though the program is not as portable as the GeoSafari electronic toys, this computer version is content-rich with visuals that are striking and that boost the game's appeal.
Note that the program lacks an option to auto-read the questions. Some parents will be grateful for this feature, as it requires their children to read. Though the extraordinary appeal of the graphics and layout of the program may inspire reluctant readers to want to read, the lack of audio instructions may be a turn-off for some. For this reason, some children will prefer other quiz-style CD-ROMs (such as Code Head: Extreme Culture ).
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95 or higher, Pentium or higher, 16 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM. Mac users require a Power PC or higher, System 7.01 or higher, 16 MB RAM, and 2X CD-ROM.
Children develop reading comprehension skills, deductive reasoning skills, and problem-solving skills as they learn facts about a wide variety of topics including: geography, solar system, seasons, world music, reptiles, insects, animals, classification, nature, food, human body, habitat, dinosaurs, monuments, inventors, history, roman numerals, quotations, traditional costumes, literature, culture, musical instruments, painters, religions, art, professions, technology, transportation, flags, symbols, weights, shapes, and measurement.
Kids will pick up loads of interesting and relevant facts with this exciting program. Some of the questions are quite challenging and are probably best suited for children in fourth to sixth grades. Kids will learn and absorb many facts at their own pace before they are able to master the game. Children who enjoy testing their knowledge will find this program has more learning to offer than most other quiz-style software games available. Excellent!
Multiplayer options add challenge and excitement to the game, but single player games are surprisingly fun as well. Self-pacing adds to the appeal of the program for many kids, and the sleek design and graphics keep children keenly interested.
How to play the game is not immediately evident. Players will need to experiment for a few minutes or read the manual provided. However, once understood, the interface is more than serviceable. Crisp graphics and minimal waits add to the program's appeal.
Even though the format remains essentially the same throughout, the content of this CD-ROM is large and varied.
This program carries a suggested retail price of $24.95 US.
Reviewed: June 2001