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By Sally Finley - Posted May 1, 2007
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Overall Rating:5 Stars
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Inspiration Software, Inc., 9400 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Suite 300, Beaverton, OR 97005. Phone: (800) 877-4292; Fax: (503) 297-4676; Internet:

Price: $79—Single-license download. $280—Five-computer license. $440—10-computer license. $640—20-computer license.

Audience: Grades 4-12.

Format: CD-ROM: text, graphics.

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows systems: Windows 98/SE/Me/2000/XP or Vista, 64 MB RAM, 50 MB hard drive space, 800 x 600 display.

Macintosh systems: Macintosh OS X Version 10.2.8 or higher, 128 MB RAM, 50 MB hard drive space, 800 x 600 display.

For both systems, an interactive electronic whiteboard is recommended as optional equipment.

Description: InspireData is database software focused on the concepts of visual learning and data literacy. Students learn to analyze and interact with collected data.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: I used the software on a Power Mac iBook G4 laptop computer running system 10.3. Installation was simple and quick. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features:  InspireData can be used to investigate, manipulate, and analyze data in science, math, social studies, and other areas.

The four InspireData Starter screen icons provide a quick way to begin a new project, to open existing documents, to access more than 50 databases and examples, and to find software documentation.

The program's Table View enables the user to enter and record data from classroom activities and experiments. Plot View provides a tool for analyzing and understanding data visually while illustrating trends and outcomes. Multiple plot types are featured, including Venn, stack, pie, and axis plots.

Time Series data is plotted as a line graph representing change over time or sequentially. Data that changes over time can be displayed and animated. Students can create a plot for data indexed to time and watch it move. By grouping records together, trends become easier to see.

Summary data is calculated for plots including count, total, mean, median, smallest, or largest data points. A plot history can be stored and categories can be combined.

More than 100 icons in the program library can be customized to meet individual needs. Color may be added to represent meaning.

A Questionnaire feature creates new records when conducting a survey; data is entered directly into a document. Questions can be written to correspond to each field, making it easy to know where the data should appear.

Completed slides can be sequenced into a slide show presentation; adjustments can be made when the slides are shown. Notes can be added to document all process findings and conclusions.

A separate Classroom Projects book provides 10 activities related to science, math, and social studies. Each project includes classroom applications, a description, outcomes, objectives, preparation information, directions, assessments, and extensions. Teachers, especially those new to this program, should try some of the projects suggested in this book.

The math projects relate to probability, reaction times, and exponential growth. Science investigations examine sinking and floating, real questions about planets, and exploring pendulum motion. Social studies activities focus on similarities and differences among Native American tribes, population trends in the 1800s, and unemployment data.

InspireData, when used with Inspiration software, lets students ask a question, collect data, organize the data, analyze the data, develop conclusions, and communicate findings. Once ideas have been captured in slides, Inspiration can be used for planning conclusions and for writing reports to communicate findings.

The company's Web site offers many Help features, as well as ideas for lessons on a variety of topics. The guide and project book are well-written and easy to follow. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: An online tutorial guides the user through each feature of the program in a straightforward manner. A Getting Started manual offers step-by-step guidance through a tutorial on toolbar buttons, menu commands, and keyboard shortcuts to create a table, to plot data, and to present a slide show.

The self-paced tutorials help integrate diagramming into the curriculum by including step-by-step instruction sheets that can be printed and used in the classroom. Many tutorials are linked to frequently updated online lesson plans. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Product support is provided through a Getting Started product manual, a Learn to Use area on the company's home page, a PDF version of the User Manual (available from the program's Help menu), an online Help feature at the company's Web site, and online technical support. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation:  InspireData is a practical aid for students and teachers. The program offers a sophisticated tool for collecting and recording data from student investigations.

The 10 activities in the Classroom Projects book feature directions that are easy to follow. I also liked the 50-plus curriculum-based databases that focus on topics such as the eye color of elementary students, cell phone plans, clay boat experiments, friction, water temperature, sleep surveys, and video game usage.

These databases can be used immediately with students to help them learn to navigate the program. They provide some interesting topics to explore.

InspireData would definitely serve as an effective tool when collecting and recording data, especially when used for a classroom science fair project. Once mastered, students could use the program to illustrate the results of individual investigations.

Older students will enjoy the capabilities of this program, especially the icons that can be customized in design and color for displaying data. The completed graphs and tables are colorful and pleasing to the eye.

The strength of InspireData is definitely the visual nature of the software and the ability to use this program in conjunction with Inspiration software. The multiple plot views give students many ways to visualize data as they conduct inquiry-based investigations within the classroom.

If you're looking for higher-level thinking software that supports inquiry in a unique and visual manner, InspireData will impress you with its ease of use and its powerful array of features. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, Gifted/Technology, Country Hills Elementary School, Coral Springs, FL.

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