I had the opportunity to try out "Telling Our Stories: Women in Science" with all my seventh and eighth grade science students. What is amazing to me is that the girls (all with Latino backgrounds and most having limited English proficiency) are as interested in this software product as the boys. This is a science first. If you wanted to produce software that helps to break down the gender barriers for women, this product succeeds in a spectacular way.
As a teacher, there is no better way to describe this software than by saying AT LAST! Finally, a computer program has been created that actually begins to utilize the teaching potential of the computer. It really works! It allows the user to explore the careers of scientists in a way that can only be done better if one were to live with and work with those people. Students get to know the scientist not only on a professional level but on a personal level. Exploring a scientist's personal photo album and biography as well as doing an interview has enabled my students to make the human connection which makes the field trip experience so much more meaningful. I would have been impressed enough except that the developer really aimed for and hit the moon with the interactive experiments. The experiments included are no less than fantastic. The potential for the use of this new kind of teaching tool has no boundaries. Computer software can't completely replace hands-on teaching but it certainly can enhance any type of hands-on science. In circumstances where hands-on experimentation is not practical or not possible (which is more often true than not) this type of experimenting software can make teaching science concpets highly successful.
Installation of the software was effortless on the Macintosh.
My students enjoyed using this software so much that it has nearly created a discipline problem just to get them away from it. Because of this program, students are begging to use the one classroom computer. I'm now letting my students sit around the computer in groups of four. I think my students liked the experiment parts the best. However, there is such a wide variety of ways to access knowledge in this software it depends on the student. I think the parts the students liked the least were the pure reading parts. (But please don't remove any part of this software. The database is a necessary part.)
We didn't need any technical support, however, we did find at least one minor bug. In the superconductivity experiment, the scientist's responses to our report came back to us as a blank sheet of letterhead.
Was the software valuable from an educational standpoint? Do cows eat grass? I would recommend this particular software to almost anyone, even to elementary kids as young as the second grade and below. Of course much of it won't be understood, but the positive message of women in science will likely be understood.
The goal of encouraging young girls and women to think seriously about a scientific career is only one of many goals that this software could help to achieve. Despite its title "Women in Science," I think that this software is a great tool for stimulating a boy's interest in a science career as well. I'm sure that our school will be ordering more of the same in the near future.
Available from: McLean Media
Recommended Ages: 10 and up
68030 processor at 25 MHz
5 Mb RAM (8 Mb recommended)
640X480 256-color monitor
2X CD-ROM drive
System 7.0.1 or higher
8 Mb RAM
256-color video adapter (640X480)
2X CD-ROM drive
Windows 3.1 or Windows 95