by Danielle Niemann
SUBJECT AREA: Math: Critical Thinking, Computation, Word Problems, Problem Solving, Real World Math
COST:$89.95 Teacher Edition
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Grades 1-6
NOTABLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows 95 only - 486/66MHz or faster with 8 MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM drive
Power Macintosh only - 8MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM drive, system 7.1 or higher
DESCRIPTION: Are you prepared to melt the goo on the planet Moldar? Mega Math Blaster will challenge you to do just that! Mega Math Blaster is educational math software designed to develop a student's skills and confidence in math. The software contains five different games involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, number patterns, estimation, fractions, decimals and percents. Users can choose from six difficulty levels in these nine different subject areas. In this respect, the software is designed to grow along with the user's skill development in math. The software is motivating and challenges users to assist Blasternaut "melt the goo on planet Moldar" while "battling the villain Gelator" by "powering up three special energy crystals."
[A multiplication screen from the Equationator activity]
The five exciting games include the following:
1) Space Zapper - Find the missing value in each math equation that appears on the instrument panel and earn bonus energy.
2) Equationator - Determine which numbers and operations can be used together on the generator tubes to make correct equations on the equationator.
3) Cave Runner - Move up through the cave by fitting specific numbers between two other numbers.
4) Math Blaster - Shoot the guard pod on Gelator's spaceship with the correct answer to a math problem.
5) Space Zapper 2 - Solve the math equations on the control panel by zapping space objects that carry the correct answers.
A student must help Blasternaut find a number that fits between those listed to advance in the Cave Runner activity.
STRENGTHS: The "training" option gives students the opportunity to practice their skills in a given subject area without the distraction and pressure of game play and then provides a visual progress report. The software tracks mastery throughout at a selected level between 85% and 100%.
The options menu offers choices in problem format. For example, vertical, horizontal and/or mixed problems can be selected. This is especially beneficial to students having difficulty with a particular problem format. The program also allows teachers and students to enter their own problems.
The software provides math tips within each activity. Screen tools are available within each activity to offers hints: a number line for addition and subtraction, and a math grid for multiplication and division.
WEAKNESSES: A minor disadvantage of the program is that only one mission can be saved at any given time under one user name. Also, the minimum mastery level of 85% may be difficult for some students to achieve.
SUMMARY: Mega Math Blaster is exciting software that grows with the student through increased levels and skills. The missions with Blasternaut are motivating and fast paced. The software comes with supplemental materials, including a 64 page activity adventure book for fun and learning away from the computer.
Danielle Niemann is an alumna of the Department of Special Education at The College of New Jersey.
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