Software Review: Destination Math Mastering Skills & Concepts V: Pre-Algebra from River Deep For Grades 6-8 Content Area: Math Reviewed on: Pentium4 GHz 2.66 with 768MB and 48X DVD/CD Reviewed with: The evaluation form demonstrated on the Superkids website: http://www.superkids.com/. Description from Manufacturer: A comprehensive approach to teaching pre-algebra. In preparation for high school mathematics, students explore ratios, proportions, and irrational numbers. They also begin a study of the fundamental skills and concepts of algebra, statistics, geometry, and probability. Unit topics cover the following content strands: Essentials of Algebra: algebra fundamentals, evaluating algebraic expression, simple equations, variable on both sides of the equation, solving literal equations Fundamentals of Geometry: geometry fundamentals, triangles, volume and surface areas Radicals and Exponents: introduction of radicals and Pythagorean Theorem, scientific notation Ratio and Proportion: ratio, proportion, direct and inverse variation, similar polygons Statistics: interpreting and constructing graphs, mean median and mode, frequency distribution, and histograms Probability: simple probability, probability of combined events Educational Value This program is very well designed and laid out. It works like an outline, with clear topics and subtopics to choose from, depending what area you need to concentrate on. The program clearly covers all of the content strands listed above. It provides a choice of a tutorial to teach the concept or workouts to practice the concepts with problems. The language and terms are easy to understand and follow. There is a glossary of terms available if you need it. The initial interface is visually engaging and looks slightly futuristic, which would appeal to youth. There is a male cartoon character, a space alien, which provides the tutorials, alternating with a female voice to provide clarification and additional instructions. The learning curve is very short, because the design is so simple to navigate. The challenge I see immediately is that students may not complete the tutorials before trying the workout problems. Kid Appeal From a student point of view, Destination Math Mastering Skills & Concepts V: Pre-Algebra is probably too juvenile and “cutesy” for many students because of its character design. I believe the teaching methods and navigation are age appropriate, but the cartoon character that guides the program is inappropriate to grades 6-8, the target audience, particularly in an urban setting like Springfield. I think student reviewers would be turned off almost immediately by the main character and it would have been better to design the character as someone reflecting the students more closely. The character could be “tweaked” to represent an avatar or an anime character, for example. The program has won several awards, including the 2006 iParenting Best Products of 2006, so clearly it has appeal in other markets and/or to other age groups. Best for... / Bottom-Line Destination Math Mastering Skills & Concepts V: Pre-Algebra is appropriate for students studying pre- algebra that can work with its cartoon interface. It is easy to learn, easy to follow and provides clear instructions, practice and interactive learning. I would suggest this product for younger students. System Requirements Stand-alone System Requirements Free hard CD Title Platform / OS Processor Available RAM disk Display Required / Other ROM space 800x600, Hi Color 16-bit, Win 98, ME, 64MB/128MB SoundBlaster 16 or 2000 SP2, NT Pentium II (128MB for 2000 150MB 16X compatible with 4.0 SP 6, XP 200 MHz or XP) headphones, Acrobat Destination Home, XP Pro Reader 5+ Math 800x600 High Color 16- Mac OS 8.6+, G3 128MB (Virtual bit, standard Macintosh OS 10.2.x- 150MB 16X processor Memory On) sound with headphones, 10.4.x (Native) Acrobat Reader 5+ Technical Support Online technical support is available here: http://support.riverdeep.net/ It provides a range of online support, updates, program guides and manuals, enhancements and related tools. 4.5 3.0 4.5 MA State Curriculum Frameworks Aligned to the Software Content: Math Strands Note: These were provided by the program’s description pages on the Riverdeep website under the correlations for Massachusetts. Number Sense and Operations Grade 7 7.N.2 Use ratios and proportions in the solution of problems involving unit rates, scale drawings, and reading of maps. Patterns, Relations and Algebra Grade 7 7.P.1 Extend, represent, analyze, and generalize a variety of patterns with tables, graphs, words, and, when possible, symbolic expressions. Include arithmetic and geometric progressions, e.g., compounding. This standard is intentionally the same as standard 8.P.1. 7.P.2 Evaluate simple algebraic expressions for given variable values, e.g., 3a2 – b for a = 3 and b = 7. This standard is intentionally the same as standard 8.P.2. Geometry Grade 7 7.G.1 Analyze, apply, and explain the relationship between the number of sides and the sums of the interior angle measures of polygons. 7.G.2 Classify figures in terms of congruence and similarity, and apply these relationships to the solution of problems. This standard is intentionally the same as standard 8.G.2. Measurement Grade 6 6.M.3 Solve problems involving proportional relationships and units of measurement, e.g., same system unit conversions, scale models, maps, and speed. l 6.M.4 Find areas of triangles and parallelograms. Recognize that shapes with the same number of sides but different appearances can have the same area. Develop strategies to find the area of more complex shapes. l 6.M.5 Identify, measure, and describe circles and the relationships of the radius, diameter, circumference, and area (e.g., d = 2r, p = C/d), and use the concepts to solve problems. l 6.M.6 Find volumes and surface areas of rectangular prisms. l 6.M.7 Find the sum of the angles in simple polygons (up to eight sides) with and without measuring the angles. l Grade 7 7.M.3 Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and apply formulas and procedures for determining measures, including those of area and perimeter/circumference of parallelograms, trapezoids, and circles. Given the formulas, determine the surface area and volume of rectangular prisms and cylinders. Use technology as appropriate. Grade 8 8.M.3 Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and apply formulas and procedures for determining measures, including those of area and perimeter/ circumference of parallelograms, trapezoids, and circles. Given the formulas, determine the surface area and volume of rectangular prisms, cylinders, and spheres. Use technology as appropriate. Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability Grade 6 6.D.1 Describe and compare data sets using the concepts of median, mean, mode, maximum and minimum, and range. l 6.D.2 Construct and interpret stem-and-leaf plots, line plots, and circle graphs.l 6.D.3 Use tree diagrams and other models (e.g., lists and tables) to represent possible or actual outcomes of trials. Analyze the outcomes. n 6.D.4 Predict the probability of outcomes of simple experiments (e.g., tossing a coin, rolling a die) and test the predictions. Use appropriate ratios between 0 and 1 to represent the probability of the outcome and associate the probability with the likelihood of the event. n Grade 7 7.D.3 Use tree diagrams, tables, organized lists, and area models to compute probabilities for simple compound events, e.g., multiple coin tosses or rolls of number cubes. Grade 7-8 8.D.2 Select, create, interpret, and utilize various tabular and graphical representations of data, e.g., circle graphs, Venn diagrams, scatterplots, stem-and-leaf plots, boxand- whisker plots, histograms, tables, and charts. Differentiate between continuous and discrete data and ways to represent them. 8.D.3 Find, describe, and interpret appropriate measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode) and spread (range) that represent a set of data. Use these notions to compare different sets of data. 8.D.4 Use tree diagrams, tables, organized lists, basic combinatorics (“fundamental counting principle”), and area models to compute probabilities for simple compound events, e.g., multiple coin tosses or rolls of dice.