Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Digital Frog

When I hear the name Digital Frog, I immediately think of the virtual frog dissection software that I've heard so many wonderful things about.  However, I knew that they had other products as well, because Connor just finished using their Science Matrix software alongside his biology class (which relates to cells) and I had heard about their Virtual Field Trips as well.

I was thrilled to learn I'd be getting a DVD ROM of all three field trips to review for the TOS Homeschool Crew.  The software did not disappoint -- it is high quality, and since I knew it was intended for middle school/high school, I was really surprised at how well it works for much younger ages as well.

The Virtual Field Trips contains three programs:  The Desert, The Wetlands,  and The Rainforest.  Unfortunately, we just did not have time to work with all three in time to complete this review, so I will focus on The Desert.

The teacher materials included on the disk suggest a couple of ways you can use the program.  They also include suggestions for grades K-3, and grades 4-12.  One way they suggest using the program is "as recreational study."  That is what we chose to do at the moment.

Upon inserting the disk, and choosing to use the Desert, the kids had the option to do a Quick Tour.  This leads the student(s) through the features of the program, and my kids found this to be an excellent introduction and overview to what they could do.

At the main screen for the Deserts, you have a choice of five options:
  1. Field Trip: This lets you go "visit" five deserts of the U.S. Southwest.  Each of these field trips allows you to scroll 360 degrees, and jump from one "stop" to another.  Each stop includes information about what you are seeing, and sometimes you can go deeper for more information.  Sometimes you can access quizzes from here as well.
  2. Desert Types: plenty of text about different ways of classifying deserts and about aridity.  Then there is a world map that shows deserts, and you can click on various regions to read more, and to view photos.
  3. Desert Study: this section includes a ton of information on things like homeostasis, adaptations of plants and animals, specific information about a number of organisms common to deserts, and a Build-a-Desert game.  My 9 and 11 year old spent a lot of time in the game.
  4. Mechanisms of the Desert: includes sections on climate, landscape formation, and water.  Within these are many, many subtopics.
  5. Human Impact: this section talks about all sorts of ways people are impacting the desert.  This isn't a section my kids opted to do much with.
Many of these sections include photographs or videos, all have fantastic detail in text.  You can click on pretty much any word in the program to have it defined for you.  And there is also a workbook and teacher guide included, so I can have the kids work through this in a systematic manner.  Some of the worksheet pages are geared to the younger kids, but most are upper levels.

My hope is to work through all three of these field trips over the summer, as all three of my big guys would enjoy that.  One thing I am considering is to use one of these trips per summer, having at least my older boys making extensive use of the worksheets and the "Above and Beyond" sections.  I think that all three of the field trips, used this way, are probably worth a high school credit.  Now my children aren't desperately in NEED of more science credits...but they would love it...

Digital Frog's Field Trips DVD ROM is available for $125 (or higher, for different license types) and this works on either a PC or Mac (we tried it on both).  Fabulous resource, and one I am very glad to own.

You can check out what my fellow crew-mates have to say about the Digital Frog Field Trip Series at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a free DVD-ROM from Digital Frog International.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Dawn said...

Good, simple review that covers a lot of ground (literally, ha!). Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Elizabeth said...

Great review : ) Stopping by from the crew.