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Earth Explorer

The Earth Explorer CD-Rom received very favorable reviews from educators at the Software Review held in October 1995. Spring helps us remember we celebrate Earth Day all year long and can incorporate environmental and STS (Science-Technology-Society) issues into a number of units.

The Earth Explorer integrates articles, data sets of graphs, tables, timelines and maps within twenty-one hot topics. Samples of topics include Population, Biodiversity, Energy-Renewable, Land Use, Wetlands, Ozones, etc. Within these topics students can read the basics of the environmental concepts and then go on to hear both sides of controversial issues. When you go into a topic you'll see sixteen people. As you click on each one you'll hear their argument for or against the issue. The users decides whether the argument is for or against and whether it is a strong or weak argument. Promoting higher order thinking skills, this educational tool will allow for students to work together in groups on a variety of environmental issues.

Classroom management might take the form of grouping students into four to six topics while students take on various roles within the groups such as collaborators, leaders, writers, data collectors, etc. Other multimedia stations might be made available in the classroom or library and print materials should also be suggested. Telecommunication sources to news items might include some of the sites mentioned in the "Bookmarks +" section. Students may get so involved in their explorations that they may want to interview (e-mail) scientists or policymakers regarding some of the hot topics. They may also want to publish their own opinions.

The software is easy to use and install. Icons change to words so there is no misunderstanding about where the icon will lead a user. Introductions and instructions are available at all levels of the program. Characters represent people from a variety of groups representing diverse viewpoints. The data section includes a great deal of information and is nicely laid out. The only drawback was that in some of the levels the text is included in a small window. It would be nice to be able to expand this window.

Earth Explorer is available for the Macintosh or Windows and can be used for grades 4-high school. Developed by Enteractive, Inc., 110 W. 40th St., Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018. 202-333-1063. Cost is: $56.00. Teacher's edition (Mac only) $99.00.