Overall Rating: B+

Source: Muncher Math Series / Softkey Multimedia / The Learning Company http://www.mecc.com/

Playing Time: Variable: individual rounds as short as five minutes with total playing sessions ranging thirty minutes and up. Program capable of returning player to a saved game.

Date: 1996

Cost: $ 9.99

Number of Players: One

Special Equipment/Facilities Needed: Macintosh Computer equipped with CD rom, keyboard, mouse

Subject Area: Mathematics (Mathematical Reasoning, Basic Four operations and Algorithms), appropriate for Elementary Grades One to Six (level of difficulty adjustable)

Objectives: A student will: improve mathematical reasoning skills; practice four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) in a variety of word problems; develop proficiency with the basic four operations; use count on's, grouping, and place value to understand the numeration system; construct number meanings through the use of concrete examples; learn to appropriately use a calculator.

Brief Description: This program offers a variety of fun, yet challenging mathematical games. The player and an animated dog named, "Sparky, the Math Dog," explore an array of calculable situations. Their goal is to solve the presented math problem correctly before the imaginary group of characters known as "The Troggles" eat all of Sparky's Bones. Calculating the correct response allows the player to "troggulate" (wipe out) the pesky Troggles.

Entry Capabilities Required: Basic reading skills and number recognition necessary, ability to type own name, as well as being capable of using a mouse

**Rating: (1-5)**

- Relevance to objectives: 5:
The mathematical games are geared specifically towards achieving
objectives.
A simulated calculator becomes activated in appropriate situations.
The situation of helping a dog rescue his treats is meaningful to the player,
making the problems concrete, ultimately furthering their understanding
of numbers. The program is adjustable to appropriate math level,
grades one to six.

Provides practice of relevant skills: 4: A variety of word problem's involving the four basic operations are presented over and over to achieve proficiency in targeted concept.

Likely to arouse/maintain interest: 4: The game of wiping out the "Toggles" is a motivating factor (similar to video games). The simulated calculator and telephone are appealing.

Likely to be comprehended clearly: 3: The activities are easy to follow once played a few times. The troggles descend very quickly, which may be overwhelming for the novice player. The space bar may be pressed if more time needed to ponder solution. Help is always just a click away.

Technical quality (durable, attractive): 3: The graphics and music are fun. This computer was not powerful to run all of the colors contained in the text. There are no noticeable glitches in playing the program.

Game: Winning dependent on player actions (rather than chance): 4: Successful completion of activity depends upon the player's correct responses to math problems.

Simulation: Validity of game model (realistic, accurate depiction): 4: The graphics are manipulable and function properly (the dog actually appears to be walking, falls down when bumps into objects, the mouths of the animated characters move when talking).

Evidence of effectiveness (e.g. field-test results): 4: This program is a product of the Learning Company. It has undergone extensive research and testing with input from educational professionals, parents, and children. The software also comes with a MECC Learning Guarantee, which states, if there is no noticeable improvement in math skills after regular use for thirty days, there is a money back guarantee.

Clear directions for play: 3: Initial directions could be clearer. An animated character is just a phone call away if help is needed. A younger player may operate from a picture menu.

Effectiveness of debriefing: 3: Positive reinforcement is provided throughout the entire program, letting the student know immediately if their solution is correct or not. There is a high scorer list for students who perform well. The activity tends to end abruptly.

Weak Points: The problems become increasingly difficult, very quickly above grade four. The theme of the game may be uninteresting to the older child capable of answering the difficult questions.

Reviewer: Megan Narenkivicius

Position: MST graduate student

Date: March 24, 1999

Computer System Reviewed on: Power Mac G3 233, 64 megabytes of RAM