This 3-CD-ROM set designed to support third grade curriculum includes the previously released JumpStart 3rd Grade, and two other CD-ROMs entitled Far-Out Field Trips and Mystery Club Volume 2: Gadget Games. The package will help children practice third grade skills, whether they need to brush up on facts already learned or they are looking to get a "jumpstart" before heading into third grade.
The first CD-ROM, Fundamentals, is the meat and potatoes of the set. Children can follow an adventure that leads them through activities or they can elect to play many of the activities independently of the adventure. Polly has sent her inventor father's robots back in time to change history, and players accompany a friendly robot, Botley, in a mission to try to capture each robot and set things right again. After all, this is a world emergency strange things are happening around the world, not the least of which is the fact that cars no longer exist and people are getting around on pogo sticks! Kids need to find clues and collect Invention points by taking part in a set of activities. Players solve math equations in order to unlock doors, make food by measuring ingredients, unscramble words, navigate a Biosphere maze, identify works of arts in a virtual gallery, and more.
The adventure adapts difficulty levels according to individual children's performance. Hints are offered and players can adjust the games' difficulty at any time. As kids play, they exercise a variety of cross-curricular skills in areas like math, reading, science, and art.
The second disc in the set is entitled Far-Out Field Trips. Kids participate in arcade-style games in Adventure World as they work to complete a magazine. Kids earn headlines, photos, facts, copy, and even sounds for their magazine. A variety of academic facts are tested as kids play. For example, in a maze activity, children answer the question, "What animal flies around at night?" and solve the equation, "18 divided by 3". Three difficulty levels are featured.
Mystery Club was a real hit with our kid testers. Children are presented with a series of crime cases to solve. Each case involves looking for clues (musical, physical, natural, etc.) and "interviewing" suspects. Players read about each case (for example, one case begins with, "Stealthy smugglers are working the wharf.") and then earn clues by participating in activities. Clues include such things as, "suspect wears a hairpiece" and "suspect is a shop owner". Once all clues for a particular case are collected, children try to pinpoint the criminal from a group of suspects by reading facts about each. This CD-ROM is enjoyable and effectively exercises children's deductive reasoning and language arts skills.
JumpStart Advanced 3rd Grade is quite useful for reinforcing academic facts. The breadth of skills covered is impressive, although few topics are covered in much depth. The set is most appropriate for children who need some encouragement to practice academic skills at home, and it provides a nice balance between fun and learning.
Minimum system requirements are Windows 98/2000/Me/XP, Pentium II 266 MHz (Pentium II 300 MHz for XP), 64 MB RAM (128 MB for XP), and 12X CD-ROM. Mac users require a PowerMac G3 266 MHz or faster, System 9.2.1, 10.1.2, 10.2.3, 64 MB RAM (128 MB for System 10.1,2 and up), and 16X CD-ROM.
Language arts, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, measurement, music, art, science concepts, problem solving, following directions, deductive reasoning, geography, and memory.
Besides a nice variety of academic subjects, this set of programs features plenty of opportunities to exercise problem-solving and deductive reasoning skills. Although academic topics are not covered in an intensive manner, the programs bring together plenty of useful content and offer educational value through play.
Children who enjoy a good adventure will be pleased with this set's varied and fun formats. Kids participate in goal-oriented stories with unusual characters and fun missions.
Excellent design features can be found in all three CD-ROMs in the set. The "Fundamentals" CD-ROM offers adaptive learning technology that keeps children at a comfortable level of challenge, and players can adjust levels manually as well. Hints are plentiful and progress reports are available.
Replay value is strong with this set's nice variety of activities, goal-oriented story lines, and large content.
The program carries a suggested retail price of approximately $29.99 US.
Reviewed: July 2003