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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Essential Science 9-14

Focus Educational Software Ltd.

45 Lemon Street
Truro, Cornwall TR1 2NS

Essential Science 9-14 is an interactive science program for middle school students. I received the downloadable version of this title, and I was able to install it without any trouble on my PC, while running Windows 7.

This program covers several different science topics:   The Earth in Space, Motion, Forces, Light, Energy Heat and Temperature, Magnets, Electromagnets, Sound, Solids, Liquids & Gases, Expansion, Heat Transfer, and Electricity. There are several subtopics under each main topic. For example, the subtopics covered under The Earth in Space are Night and Day, The Seasons, Phases of the Moon, Solar Eclipse, The Solar System, Satellites, How a Satellite Orbit Works, and Weightlessness.

This program contains short lessons on each subtopic, which are displayed on the right side of the screen. On the left side of the screen, there is an interactive, animated science experiment for the concept being taught. This allows the student to see what the text is talking about, and it allows them to manipulate the concept, in order to gain a full understanding. So, if a student were to click on the Phases of the Moon subtopic, they would be taken to a screen with a simple explanation about the phases of the moon. Right next to the explanation, there is an interactive picture of the Earth on its axis, along with a picture of the moon and its orbit. The student can click on the play button and the moon will begin its orbit around the Earth. There is a box that shows the day of the month, as well as what portion of the moon is visible from Earth. The student can use the mouse to manipulate the view of Earth (so they can view Earth from the side, the top, the bottom, or anywhere in between). In addition to the lessons and animation, there are short multiple choice tests for each of the major topics. These can be taken on the computer or printed.

All in all, I think Essential Science would make a great supplement to any science program, but I don't think the explanations are in depth enough for this product to stand alone. That said, at times I know I have trouble making sure I have experiment supplies on hand, and while I wouldn't want to completely replace hands-on science experiments, this program makes a great backup. If you have a middle school student, I would recommend that you take a look at this program to supplement your science program.

Product Review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, LLC, February, 2012

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