Title: The Magic School Bus Explores the Inside
of the Earth
Source: Microsoft Home
Playing Time: variable (can spend a few
minutes or hours)
Date: 1994 - 1996
Cost: $ 29.99
Number of Players: single player
(can be used by up to four)
Special Equipment/Facilities Needed: Computer
with a CD ROM drive, audio board, operating system and drivers.
Subject Area: Earth Sciences
Grades 3 through 6
Objectives: To allow children the opportunity
to explore the inside of the earth such as volcanoes, faults, underwater,
geodes, caverns... To learn how such areas, zones and material effect the
earth we live on and how the earth effects them in return.
Brief Description: This particular Magic
School Bus CD invites curious children to learn about the many things which
take place below the surface of the earth and cannot be seen by the naked
eye (for the most part.) The Magic School Bus literally takes its
user to the sites it is concentrating on and teaches the child basic knowledge
of whatever topic it is discussing at the time.
Entry Capabilities Required: A basic
that the earth is composed of different layers. Moderate reading
skills (about third grade level.) Basic computer skills.
Relevance to objectives: 5 This
CD allows children to take part in their own learning by investigating
the many areas below the earth. By first showing the reports of the
Magic School Bus cartoon characters, and then taking the user to the site
and explaining everything in a more "hands on" kind of manner, this CD
certainly allows children to learn while they actively explore.
The strongest points of this CD is that it makes learning the inside of
the earth fun for children of all ages. Using the hands on approach,
users can learn so much by experiencing what is taking place. Even
the "lecturing" on this game is interesting because it is as if the children
are learning from each other and not a teacher. Whether a child is
a visual or an auditory learner, the Magic School Bus Explores the Inside
of the Earth gives all types of students the opportunity to be educated
in a manner which is factual, accurate and very effective. This CD
is highly recommended for science classrooms with children aged 6 to 12
Provides practice of relevant skills:
3 The Magic School Bus Explores the Inside of the Earth does not
deal with any particular skill however the CD does offer the opportunity
to do experiments such as rock scratching and classifying, creating rocks
by mixing elements... This CD is more for learning "about" than learning
Likely to arouse/maintain interest: 5
This CD will arouse and maintain the interest of players/users of all
The Magic School Bus characters (Arnold, Ralphie, Dorothy Ann, Keesha...)
make learning about the inside of the earth fun by speaking to children
in a way that they can understand and relate to. Everything is explained
fully and completely and the organization of each topic ensures that no
child will be left behind and lose interest. If a child does get
bored with a particular topic, there are plenty more areas to visit and
many games, experiments, puzzles... to do.
Likely to be comprehended clearly: 5
This CD will be comprehended as clearly as expected. As mentioned
above, the organization of this learning tool is very straight forward
and simple to follow. However, one caution would be to ensure that
the user is old enough to understand the material - a 4 year old may not
understand what a fault line is however, an 8 year old should be able to
grasp the concept.
Technical quality (durable, attractive):
5 This CD is very attractive as it is very colorful, and full of
cartoon animation which come to life the second you click on almost any
character. Even the tone of the cartoon characters is lively and
exciting - a true motivation element in itself. Also, even
though everything is animated, the makers have made this CD as real life
as possible. For example, users can dig through the earth, create,
Game: Winning dependent on player actions (rather
than chance): 3 Although there is much
to learn from the factual information this CD offers, the games included
are not always skill but luck/chance. About 50% of the games are
just plain games which require no thought or skill. The other 50%
of the games however are very educational and allow children to learn
(i.e. how rocks and geodes are created, puzzles, cave painting, 3D
Simulation: Validity of game model (realistic,
accurate depiction): 5
The games, even the less educational ones, are very realistic and accurately
depict the zone/area where the Magic School Bus Children may be located
at the time. For example, the "bat races" take place in a cave...
Evidence of effectiveness (e.g. field-test
5 The evidence of effectiveness of this CD can be found everywhere.
There is written information and visual information to help all children
learn about the material being covered. It allows children to become
active participants by exploring and experiencing all of the elements covered
on this CD. Even some of the games allow for the opportunity for
the child to use what he/she has learned.
Clear directions for play: 4
Most of the time the directions of play were very clear. At times
one may need to play around a bit to discover all of what this game/learning
tool has to offer. One can easily get away without having to use
a manual at all, however, a little trial and error may be necessary.
Effectiveness of debriefing:
5 As mentioned, this CD is very much
a hands on tool which allows children to learn while exploring and
There are also many diagrams, movies, charts, maps and pictures which come
to life in order to exhibit what is being presented. Any child, with
even the slightest amount of curiosity concerning the inside of the earth,
can find something interesting and appealing because the Magic School Bus
takes you to the source and lets you experience things as you would in
The weakest point of this CD would have to be that there is too many subjects
being covered. From canyons, to geodes, to underwater volcanoes...
there is so much to do, one can spend an hour just deciding what to visit
first. Perhaps a narrowing of topics would have been necessary but
at least it is well organized!
Reviewer: Julie Duchesne
Position: MST Student (elementary education)
Date: March 17, 1999.
Computer System Reviewed on: Macintosh
PowerPC 6500/250, 32mb ram.