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The Magic School Bus 
Explores Inside the Earth 
by Bethany Zubricky and friends
reported by Jeff Zubricky

Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth From Microsoft is an interactive CD adventure game for kids' ages 6 to 10. Microsoft produces a total of four titles in the Magic School Bus series. The additional three titles are The Magic School Bus Explores the Ocean, The Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body, and The Magic School Bus Explores the Solar System.

 We installed Scholastic's The Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth on a computer running Win95 and the CD auto launched installation after it was up to speed. It only took a matter of minutes to get the program installed and it was time to Explore Inside the Earth. The goal of the game is to find the missing rocks and minerals from Arnold's collection. You get help from all of Arnold's classmates, Ms. Frizzle, and Liz the lizard. You travel through the earth in the Magic School Bus.

 The first tester was Bethany; she enjoyed exploring all six geological zones and playing the eight games and activities. Bethany found all six of the multimedia reports both educational and entertaining. Bethany reports enjoying all the geology lessons that are the basis for the game. Bethany would like the game to have a switch at the Geo table to turn off the voice prompting, she found it a nuisance after the third time. The Magic School Bus is filled with interesting equipment, including Ralphie's Earth Kitchen. Bethany says it is important to explore everything in the Magic School Bus, trying to find all the rocks for Arnold is a challenge.

 Jennifer, the second tester is 9 and enjoyed the Magic School Bus adventure. The Geo table presented Jennifer a small problem when testing a mineral; she could not get any help figuring out the streak test. Jennifer had fun in all the zones, and some of the games entertained her for quite a while. Jennifer was able to navigate the game without much any assistance.

 The third tester and the youngest was Katie. Katie, who is 6, did not want to play the "Batty Cave Race", but enjoyed the cave painting activity. Katie was working on a cave drawing and wanted to erase a line but could not find an eraser. Katie would like to see an easy to use eraser added to the cave painting activity. While she explored the cave painting area it was discovered that clicking on the fire would erase the whole wall painting.

 Parents report that the audio is enjoyable, after hours of play it is still pleasant background noise. The program is both educating and entertaining. The game for the younger players may require sibling or adult assistance. I do not find this a problem, I think learning often involves the whole family.

 Teachers and parents who want to help their children learn even more when they are having fun with this program can visit the Microsoft curriculum activities and teaching guide site on the Internet for great ideas to integrate The Magic School Bus series into their lessons.

 Observations: When we first ran the program, we received a prompt that there was a CD already in the drive. I found this strange because The Magic School Bus CD was the only CD in the drive. I traced the prompt to Auto Play Extender, a Microsoft Power Toy for Win95. I disabled Auto Play Extender and everything worked fine. The program runs in 640X480, 256 colors video, but ran fine at 16 bit color. I would like to see a printer status bar added to the Rock Hound License area, by accident the testers printed 2 copies of their licenses.

 Recommendations: Bethany and I recommend this program for kids ages 6 to 10 that want to learn more about geology. Parents and kids will enjoy hours of activities. This program has a 30 day money back guarantee from Microsoft.
 
 

System Requirements:

A Multimedia PC or compatible with a 486SX or higher micro-processor, 25 MHz (33 MHz recommended), 4 MB of RAM (8 MB recommended), at least 5 MB of available hard-disk space, double-speed CD-ROM drive, 8-bit audio board (16-bit suggested), and SVGA display capable of 256 colors (local bus video recommended), MS-DOS(r) operating system version 5.0 or later, EITHER Microsoft Windows(r) operating system version 3.1 or later OR Windows 95, Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device, headphones or speakers.
 
 

Support:

A complete list of support resources are available in the printed material included with the CD. Available locally from Computer City for $39.99