A fantastic field trip is in store for kids in this edition of the latest Magic School Bus Activity Center CD-ROMs. After signing in and designing a "Lava License" a picture ID with user-defined, wacky features kids are taken to the bus and greeted by teacher extraordinaire, Ms. Frizzle. Here, they can explore the many "clickables" that either lead them to activities or teach them a thing or two about volcanoes. Outside of the bus, class members host more games to play and offer interesting information bytes.
Some of the activities offered take the form of educational experiments. In one, children make their own volcano by playing with two variables the thickness of the magma, and the amount of gas then watch how their volcano erupts. In another, kids compare different types of real-world volcanoes (like St. Helens and Mauna Loa) by taking a closer look at their features, including lava flow, sound, and ash.
Short volcano videos show lava flow and underwater smoke, and a map features 10 "clickable" volcanoes from around the world that offer important characteristics of each. The life of a volcano is demonstrated in another activity. Children can follow the stages and see how a volcano is formed and develops and, finally, what happens when it erupts.
Creativity activities allow kids to explore volcanoes in a more casual manner. Children use stickers to bring a volcanic wasteland back to life with greenery and housing. When they want to start over with a clean slate, they can do so with a blast a volcanic one, of course!
Games include picture puzzles featuring stunning photographs of volcanoes that need to be pieced back together and an arcade-style game that plays much like Frogger, only players lead the school bus across a lava flow by strategically hopping onto logs and rescuing animals along the way for bonus points. In Rub-a-Dub Sub, kids navigate a submarine, collect rocks, and dodge assorted obstacles including heat vents and lava. Yet another fast-paced game entitled Operation Rescue requires children to guide lava down the mountain and away from the town using concrete blocks.
In comparison with the other titles in the Magic School Bus Activity Center series, Volcano Adventure seems to have more games. However, our testers missed the game show-style quizzes that appear in the previous titles in the series.
This program is fun and interesting for a time, but kids with a genuine interest in the subject will do best with the game. Because the program is rather open-ended and is missing an overall goal, children can easily avoid the educational tidbits in favor of the arcade-style games.