by Niki Marazzo

SUBJECT AREA: Science, with emphasis on Astronomy

PUBLISHER: Broderbund


REQUIRED HARDWARE: 8-bit color capability Mac monitor (256 colors or shades of grey); color or grey-scale monitor; hard disk with 11 MB free space; 4 MB RAM with 2.5 MB available; 1.44 MB ("high-density") 3.5 floppy disk drive; system 6.0.7 or higher. IBM version also available.

EDUCATIONAL GOALS: To familiarize students with the solar system, while developing critical thinking and data collection skills.

DESCRIPTION: Following the engaging format of the Carmen Sandiego series, Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego? takes students on a rocket ride to the far reaches of the solar system. This time Carmen's colorful gang is made up of alien beings. In place of the usual reference book, students have access to an on-screen database which provides historical, scientific, and mythological information on the planets, their moons, and other bodies in our Solar System. The "VAL 9000" computer provides facts on constellations, astronomers and astronauts, and information which is needed to successfully solve crimes.

STRENGTHS: This program provides an excellent format for group work, allowing students of differing abilities to combine their strengths to capture alien criminals. Aside from broadening their understanding of the solar system, students also get a chance to enhance their knowledge of literature, history and mythology. Students practice research skills when they use the on-screen database which includes an easy to use "find" feature. The VAL 9000 computer is an in-depth encyclopedia which not only provides users with textual information, but provides NASA photographs of many of the planets and their satellites.
With names like "Kit Incaboodle" and "Morton U. Bargandfore," and physical characteristics such as scales, multiple limbs and/or eyes, Carmen's gang members are not only slippery, but they are a clever, entertaining addition to the series.

WEAKNESSES: Because the program involves a fair amount of reading, students with visual impairments or learning disabilities may need adaptations such as screen-reading programs.

SUMMARY: Where in Space is an entertaining and humorous program that will keep students playing long after the lesson is over. It may even entice many adults to try their hands at galactic detective work.

Niki Marazzo is a graduate student in the Department of Special Education at Trenton State College.

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