March 2000

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.

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Trans-Con! from Lionel Trains and Knowledge Adventure, JumpStart Math for Kindergartners and JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade from Knowledge Adventure

Trans-Con! from Lionel Trains and Knowledge Adventure

If you're an American history enthusiast and love the model electric trains then Trans-Con! from Lionel Trains and Knowledge Adventure is a CD to consider.  This is simulation designed for kids ages 7-12, but adult railroad fans can have fun as well.  It's a game that lets you participate in the building of the United States railroad system, which began in 1863.  You'll find great graphics and sounds worthy of any of the Knowledge Adventure products, and even a real model of "The General" steam engine in a limited edition commemorative tin box (don't get too excited, it's not electric).

The activities include surveying the terrain, overcoming obstacles, allocating US government grant money (for building bridges and blasting tunnels) and laying the track from city to city while you're learning railroad-related facts along the way.  One obstacle that could stop you in your tracks is a gang of outlaws working to sabotage your work.  But don't be dismayed.  You can summon up some of the best Western heroes of those times to help including Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Tomahawk Beckwourth.

Sarah, my 8-year-old daughter, spent some time on this game, connecting the tracks and building bridges while learning some railroad facts, but I don't think she enjoyed Trans-Con! as much as some of the other educational CDs we've evaluated.  Becky, my 5-year-old, was more excited playing this CD.  She especially like the toy train engine included in the box.  In fact, she spent some time away from the computer choo-chooing the model train around the house.   I realize that there may be a gender difference in interests and boys probably like trains more than girls.  I don't have boys to help with my testing, but I enjoyed the CD.

Trans-Con! sells for a street price of  $19.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, Pentium 90 or faster, with 16 MB RAM running Windows 98/95 and a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive.

JumpStart Math for Kindergartners from Knowledge Adventure

Join Hopsalot the rabbit and his JumpStart friends in the clouds, in Cloudtown, for some kindergarten math fun.  This is another charming educational software creation from Knowledge Adventure, the experts at educational learning with great graphics, sound effects and even music and dancing . You may be wondering how much math a 5-year-old can experience, but Knowledge Adventure has worked very hard to get the math right level of math to your child.   This CD offers 11, fun, math-related games and activities with an arcade-style format guaranteed to keep your kids at the computer.

When you enter the main menu, you're in the clouds with 5 activity options:  Party Hat Island, Cake Island, Present Island and Balloon Island.  The goal is to get to the birthday party.  You earn birthday candles for each activity completed.  Once you reach 100 candles, the party begins!

This is a great CD for kids ages 4 to 6.  In fact, my 5-year-old daughter, Becky, loves it, especially dancing with the Hat Dance activity.  She said she also liked the Snow Cone activity.  After spending two hours at the computer, Becky proudly announced, "I won the game, Dad."  She called me to the computer to show me some of her favorite games.  It was cute see her dancing with the JumpStart characters after completing the Hat Dance activity.

JumpStart Math for Kindergartners sells for a street price of  $19.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, 486DX66 MHz or faster, with 16 MB RAM and a Power Macintosh.  Both computers require a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive.

I have to say that I was surprised that Becky really liked this CD since it was math activities and she's only 5.  Apparently, Knowledge Adventure knows what they're doing and this CD was right on the mark for math and kindergartners. 

JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade from Knowledge Adventure

Kids ages 8-10 can jump into the latest educational software CD from Knowledge Adventure and help the JumpStart Kids find the stolen treasure map from the town of Sapphire Falls.  Your goal is to recover the map by playing several games within the town's gem mine, find the treasure and catch the villain.  This is another creative animated adventure filled with arcade-style games and activities that will keep your kids learning at the computer for hours.

The activities take place in the gem mine and include Platform Problems, Laser Letters, Map Madness, Tablet Turnover, Clue Climber, Wacky Words, Crystal Keys and Race Chase covering math, spelling, vocabulary, geography, science, music, history and more with various difficulty levels.

JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade sells for a street price $19.99 and will run on any multimedia PC, 100 MHz or faster, with 16 MB RAM running Windows 98/95 and Power Macintosh (120 MHz or faster) with 11 MB RAM.  Both computers require a quad-speed (4x) CD-ROM drive.

Sarah, who is 8-years-old, and in 3rd grade, was excited to tackle this CD.  She'll be jumping into 4th grade next year, so it's the perfect classroom companion.   Once installed, she spent at least two hours in the adventure, but had to call me for help.  Some of the activities were hard to complete.  In Laser Letter, she had trouble cutting out the correctly spelled words before the blaster hit them.  Sarah did say she loved the geography activity in Map Madness.

Howard Berenbon

Software Companies Mentioned

Knowledge Adventure, Inc.
19840 Pioneer Avenue
Torrance, CA 90503
Phone: 1-800-545-7677