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Review CornerSoftware
Human Body Explorer Deluxe
Rating: four and half stars
The Bottom Line
A 2-CD-ROM set that serves up science for young children both inside the body and out, this package is loaded with science facts, experiments, and activities. The featured Human Body Explorer disc is educational and fun in equal measure.
Award
Ages: 6-9  Subject: Science  Publisher: DK Interactive
Review Sections:  Product Overview  Technically Speaking  Skills Covered  Educational Value  Entertainment Value  Design  Replayability  Dollar Value
 
 
image Product Overview
The first disc in this set, Human Body Explorer, presents an amusing and educational foray into the inner workings of the body with a humorous see-through host, Seemore Skinless. Seemore invites kids to explore the human body if they can "stomach it". In fact, the lessons presented here are thoroughly digestible for young children, with kid-friendly games and enough information packed into the disc to even teach their parents a thing or two.

Don't let the main screen's 4 activity icons fool you — this CD-ROM is wonderfully multi-layered. There are so many things to do in this program — kids will count the bones in a pelvis, fill a bladder, measure a small intestine, make a tooth map by inserting the right types of teeth into gum spaces, "grow" hair, and fill a scrapbook with personal information, to name just a few.

A standout activity, entitled Me and My Day, allows children to decide what Seemore does throughout his day — and for how long. But beware — allowing Seemore to watch TV for 4 hours simply won't work, and kids will need to start the game all over again. Players pay attention to the skinless host's hunger, thirst, and tiredness meters, and monitor his heart rate and breathing patterns as he does things like paint a picture, bake a few cakes, and walk the invisible dog. The videos showing him performing these tasks are downright hilarious. Successfully leading Seemore through his day earns kids a certificate — and ignoring the warning alarms will bump kids back to the beginning.

Take Me Apart might be more aptly named "put me back together again", as kids spend most of their time clicking and dragging body parts into the skeleton frame in this puzzle-like activity. After doing this a few times, children might be ready to "beat the bomb", racing against the user-defined clock to re-assemble Seemore.

Children can also take a quiz, answering 19 questions (including multiple choice, true or false, and labeling) to earn an equal number of body parts (bones and organs). They'll have to do a little research to arrive at many of the answers — an almost painless exercise when kids peruse of the handy Find Out More icon. Once all bones and organs have been collected, players can dress up Seemore in wacky ways, snap pictures of their creations, and ultimately enjoy a slideshow that plays much like a wacky fashion show.

A Secret File allows users to customize a scrapbook all about themselves! Children can fill in their likes and dislikes, measure then record their heart rate, create diary entries, and more. There are games to play within this book, like a food sorting activity that requires children to sort food items into carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. There's even a tooth map to personalize.

This program is wonderfully multifaceted — activities can be found within activities, a see-inside icon reveals cutaway views of particular body parts, and information pop-ups can be found everywhere. Exploring this program feels almost like an exploration on the Web, as children can easily get sidetracked with all of the hypertext links, "see more" icons, and the like. A Search function helps children find specific facts and activities quickly, and a copy/print option is handy for those using the program as a reference tool.

The Bonus CD-ROM
Why do things freeze? How do worms move without legs? Why do things get rusty? This package's bonus CD-ROM gives answers to these questions and more, as children explore everyday science concepts through experiments, activities, and lessons. While similar in format to the Human Body Explorer CD, some of the lessons here are a little on the dry side and lacking in pizzazz.

Fizz, a ball of energy, is the enthusiastic guide in this bonus Science Explorer disc. With the goal of becoming a Science Explorer in mind, children win prizes for successfully completing 8 activities, collect stickers and type in their observations to fill a Science Workbook, and earn 72 badges for lessons learned in Science School. There are printable experiments and worksheets to do away from the computer as well, and a test-your-knowledge quiz. Each of the 8 activities is similar in format, featuring objects moving along a conveyor belt. These need to be dragged and dropped into various categories in a beat-the-clock format. For example, children must sort sounds into musical, animal, and mechanical groups, or arrange recycling objects into paper, glass, and metal categories. A slider allows children to adjust the difficulty level.

Science Explorer is laid out in such a way so that children can either access the lessons and activities naturally by exploring 4 different areas (countryside, kitchen, city, or workshop), or go directly to specific games and lessons via the index and main-screen icons. While it boasts a similarly crisp presentation, this title is less engaging than the featured CD-ROM.

Important note: the titles in this program were previously released as My Amazing Human Body and My Amazing Science Explorer.

Technically Speaking
Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/NT 4/2000, a 486DX2/66Mhz or faster processor, 16 MB of RAM for Win 95/98 or 32 MB RAM for Win NT/2000, 2X CD-ROM, and a minimum of 30 MB hard disk space available. Mac users require any PowerPC, 16 MB RAM, System 7.6.1, 2X CD-ROM, and 15 MB available hard drive space.

Skills Covered
Human Body Explorer: bones and muscles, the brain, nerves, food and digestion, hair, skin, nails, the heart, blood, circulation, kidneys, bladder, lungs and breathing, the senses, healthy living, experiments. Science Explorer: electricity, forces and energy, heat, light and sound, living things, materials, reactions, simple machines, space, experiments.

Educational Value
A wide range of science facts are presented in an engaging, crisply animated and illustrated world. Plenty of easy-to-do, real-world experiments with everyday materials are included.

Entertainment Value
Sharp graphics and a goofy host enliven science lessons in the featured CD-ROM. Activities found within activities and an "all about me"-style scrapbook add depth and further the excitement. While the Science Explorer bonus CD is a little on the bland side, the package as a whole has much to offer any child with an interest in the how's, why's, and what's of their body and the world around them!

Design
Auto-narration can be turned off or on at the discretion of parents, and a handy index allows users to get where they want to go quickly. The human body CD-ROM is designed in such a way that younger children in the target age group may feel a little lost at times, but older ones should catch on fast. Thoughtful features abound.

Replayability
While children may run out of steam rather quickly with the bonus CD-ROM, Human Body Explorer is fascinating enough to favor longevity. This package will be useful as a reference for school projects even after children have worn out on playing the activities.

Dollar Value
The low suggested retail price of $19.99 US represents tremendous value.

Released: 2000 
Reviewed: April 2001