I have an absolutely phenominal resource to share from a company called Digital Frog International. As you might guess from the name, their brainchild is digital frog dissection software. While I wouldn’t have traded my live dissection classes for a million bucks, I just think this software is absolutely brilliant, though I haven’t seen it myself. I had downloaded the ScienceMatrix: Cell Structure and Function made by this company last spring and will be using it very soon with Taylor who is currently studying Botany. When I downloaded the Science Matrix, I looked through the website at the other programs they had to offer and ran across another amazing set of programs called digital field trips. Now you might imagine with science, dissection and nature being such a big part of my passion, I was just overjoyed when I learned I would be receiving the entire Digital Field Trip Series on DVD!
I must surely say I had high expectations for these programs, and this is one of those times I looked in my mailbox with great anticipation until the envelope with the DVD arrived.
The Dvd I received had three virtual field trips included. (These can also be purchased seperately.)
I began by choosing to take a trip to the rainforest. I soon learned the rainforest I would be touring was the Blue Creek Rainforest Reserve in Belize, Central America. I began my trip by finding Central America on the world map, then clicking all the way to the Blue Creek Rainforest. I LOVED being able to see the area we were touring on a map and how it zoomed right into the actual park we were touring. This software is so very easy to follow that you can, indeed, just pop the disk in and get started. There are several different places you can find help with the different features of the program. I began using the disc on my older computer and had no trouble at all zooming in and out of the 360 degree panorama of the park we were touring. There is a little map that shows the trail you will be traveling and numbered points along the way, just like a regular hiking trail would look. You can start at point number one or anywhere along the trail. Once you click on the number, the screen will take you right into the virtual forest where you can zoom in and out and look all around you as you please, as if you were standing right in the rain forest. You can zoom in on the animals and plants for detailed explanations an additional information, or you can click on the highlighted animals and plants on the side box which has commentary for the area you are currently exploring. The sounds that accompany the virutal tour add just another touch of realism to the whole experience. There are many different learning opportunities including games, quizzes, videos, interactive demonstrations, as well as an amazing workbook that adds a huge variety of written exercises that follow right along with the program. I really love the option of printing exactly what I need when I need it.
I was really amazed at the huge amount material covered and the depth to which one could explore each topic. This program can truly be enjoyed by a wide range of ages, but I do believe upper elementary to middle school ages and defiitely high school students would be able to gain the most from the depth to which to program is capable of teaching.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this review that my middle child is studying Botany this year, I will mention that this trip to the rainforest will certainly add a significant amount of meat to her study. I hadn’t actually realized that would be the case until we began to explore the program together and she pointed out how many botany references and topics were actually included. Unfortunately my older computer crashed and when I tried the dvd on my new computer, I am having trouble viewing the 360 tour of the rainforest. My printer was hooked up to the older computer, and I have just been able to get it switched over to the new computer as of today. When I first put the dvd in my new computer, I was prompter to download Quick Time. This was very straight forward, and as user friendly as the whole program seems to be. I tried a few different manipulations, but I did end up contacting customer support to ask for help with not being able to see the interactive rainforest tour. I’m still in the process of figuring that out, but I will say the “Frog Ladies” are wonderful support. I have always believed customer support says a lot about a product, and I’ve no doubt I’ll have this up and running very soon.
The next field trip in the series which I didn’t explore as thoroughly as the rainforest, but still found on the map and got a good idea of what it had to offer was the Digital Field Trip to the Desert.
Here I had the choice of five North America deserts. While I was tempted to start with our desert here in Texas, I decided I wanted to check out Death Valley first. I found many of the same cool features I had found in the rainforest field trip: games, interactive notes, videos, as well as a great workbook full of tips, quizzes, a study guide, and other resources. This desert field trip will be of great interest to my older daughter who was very intrigued by the section on geology she studied last year. It includes an indepth look at rocks and minerals, landforms, weathering and erosion.
Lastly, I glanced over the wetlands tour, and absolutely can’t wait to return to the Cloud Lake bog in Algonquin Park Ontario, Canada.
This tour explores the eco-system of the wetlands through the same animations, narrations, photographs, games, quizzes and printable workbook as the other field trips and will give our biology studies a richness I would have not otherwaise imagined. I especially love the focus on ecology and environmental awareness that all of these field trips seem to bring to the table. As I looked through all the wetlands tour had to offer, I found it was divided into five in-depth modules. I couldn’t begin to go over all of this in the time I had to view this, but each of these three virtual field trips will be included in our science studies for years to come. My science-loving girls were just mesmerized with all these had to offer and hardly knew where to begin when it was their turn to explore and give me their opinions. This is a product that will make their learning fun and “virtually hands-on”, and I can see them both spending hours looking through these programs. My 4.5 year old was even chomping at the bit to get his turn to try it out.
I can’t recommend this field trip series enough to homeschoolers, or anyone with science buffs amongst you. It beautifully done, full of detailed animations and gorgeous pictures.
While you can buy each of these field trips seperately for $60 (home license price), the best deal for homeschoolers is the series of all three dvd’s for $125. I guarantee once you take one field trip you will definitely be packing for the next one! For their best bonus offer, you can purchase their whole set of products including the field trip series, the Science Matrix, and the frog dissection software for $199! (Regular educational price for all these is $409!)
The website contains a wealth of information as well free demos, sample workbook pages, etc. If you are a science buff like me, you’ll certainly not want to miss this fabulous resource! Click on the field trip pictures above to find it on the website!
As always, check out what my Crew mates had to say over at our Crew blog.
I received this product as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. No other compensation was received and the opinions here are my own.