*MindPower Math: Middle School* consists of four CD-ROMs designed to teach children Middle School math topics through visualization and interaction.
The first CD-ROM in the package is devoted to Basic Mathematics--core topics generally covered in grades 6-9. It offers children the chance to explore and investigate fractions, decimals, integers, and percents. The second CD-ROM is Pre-Algebra, and the final two CD-ROMs are devoted to the subject of Algebra.

Each CD-ROM is designed similarly with the broad, featured subject organized into sub-categories. Each sub-category consists of a lesson/tutorial and work-outs (problems to solve). The problems require students to find an answer, and offer an optional "Show Me" feature that explains the solution step by step.

The narration is clear and crisp. The program is run in a browser, so it plays much like an online software program. Navigation, although rather straightforward, is laborious at times, simply because users are required to click frequently in order to move forward.

These CD-ROMs offer clear and effective tutorials that incorporate truly interesting examples (for example, fractions are demonstrated using geography facts), visual aids, and frequent chances to get involved. The result is a practical and rather engaging product.

The tutorials present math topics in a straightforward way, not through a game format. Those looking for a playful approach to the subject might try Math Shop Deluxe .

Technically Speaking

Minimum system requirements are Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium (or equivalent) 166 MHz or higher (Pentium II class for Win 2000/XP), 64 MB of RAM (128 MB for Win 2000/XP), and 8X CD-ROM drive. Mac users require a G3 processor or faster, System 8.6-9.2.2, OS 10.1.3, 64 MB RAM (with Virtual Memory on), and 8X CD-ROM drive. The program requires 3-13 MB of hard drive space. Internet Explorer 5.0 is recommended, and Netscape 4.7x is supported. Note that Netscape 6.0 and higher is not supported.

Skills Covered

Children learn and develop skills in the following math topics: fractions, decimals, integers, percents, ratio and proportion, elementary algebra, basic geometry, statistics, probability, linear functions and equations, systems of linear equations, linear inequalities in one and two variables, real numbers, powers and polynomials, quadratic functions and equations, algebraic expressions and functions, and graphical displays of data.

Educational Value

Although none of the subjects is covered in too much depth, math concepts are taught in a pleasing visual format with effective demonstrations and examples borrowed from believable, real-world subjects. Hints and tricks are offered as memory aids.

Entertainment Value

This program does not present math concepts in a game format, so it is best for children who are rather serious about brushing up on math facts and concepts. However, the examples given to explain math topics are concise and interesting.

Design

This program is browser-based, so that it feels very much like an online software program. Although there are too many steps (students need to click frequently in order to advance), the program offers a fairly intuitive interface. Math topics are clearly organized and defined.

Replayability

An interactive format and interesting demonstrations will keep many students engaged.

Dollar Value

This package carries a retail price of approximately $30 US.

Released: 2002

Reviewed: August 2002