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Science Diagrams

By Sally Finley - Posted May 1, 2006
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: Tool Factory, Inc., 3336 Sunderland Hill Road, Sunderland, VT 05250. Phone: (800) 375-6549; Fax: (802) 375-6860; Internet: http://www.toolfactory.com/.

Price: $79.95—single unit; $239.85—five pack; $399.75—10 pack; $799.50—25 pack. Network site licenses are available.

Audience: Grades 5-12.

Format: CD-ROM: text, graphics.

Minimum System Requirements: For Windows systems only. PC: 486+, 4 MB RAM, Windows 3.1x+, SVGA, 256 colors, 2x CD-ROM drive, printer.

Description: Science Diagrams is a drawing program that provides access to more than 200 pre-constructed and edit-ready science-related diagrams, as well as the tools to create new diagrams. The artwork can be pasted into word processing programs and used in learning worksheets, student projects, exams, and tests.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: I used the software on an HP computer using Windows XP, version 5.1. Installation was simple and quick. Once the software is installed on the hard drive, the disc is not needed to access the program. Installation/Access Rating: A

Content/Features: Science Diagrams provides drawing tools and pre-designed diagrams related to human biology, blood and circulation, the senses, the skeleton, DNA, plant biology, beakers and flasks, funnels, test tubes and connectors, chemistry, industrial chemistry, hazard symbols, structures and bonding, circuit symbols, electricity and magnetism, optics, waves, energy, mechanics, and space and earth science.

The diagrams can be used directly from the clip art library, the clip art can be edited, or new diagrams can be drawn. A toolbar provides tools that draw original or pre-constructed shapes. Bezier curves and other diagrams are easy to make; Arrangement Tools move the objects with ease. Flow charts, cycles, and other science algorithms can be constructed and customized to suit any level of instruction.

The clip art library is organized in pages; objects are easily dragged into the workspace. Original art entries and new libraries can be added. Background pictures can be placed on the drawing area. Scanned images can be imported and used as templates for use with the drawing tools.

The art library is extensive; I especially liked the option of adding my own clip art. In addition, the Tool Factory Web site offers a fantastic collection of images at its Clip Art Station. The online images are offered for sale in a variety of price options, including a week of access for $5.95 and a year for $29.95.

The Web site also includes a number of free clip art samples; these worked nicely into my diagrams. With budget freezes and the need to economize a priority in many school districts, the free samples are greatly appreciated.

A simple word processor adds text to drawings and diagrams. A selection of fonts, sizes, and colors are offered.

All diagrams are readily pasted into word processing documents for presentations, lectures, projects, quizzes, or handouts.

In the classroom, students and teachers can use Science Diagrams in a variety of ways. Students can prepare presentations related to a science concept, such as a flow chart showing the stages of lima bean growth. The clip art library offers art of each stage of the germination process. A description can be added to each graphic and the project can be shared with the class.

Parallel and series circuits can be examined with a set of diagrams that show how each type of circuit works. Scientific investigations and experiments can be described with diagrams using graphics of flasks, beakers, and glassware with a step-by-step description of the experiment.

Lesson plans for a variety of topics can be found online; many of these provide templates that can be printed out for classroom use. Teachers are invited to add their own lessons to the Tool Factory Web site. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: Science Diagrams is very easy to use. A drag and drop feature enables the quick addition of graphics to the main screen.

At the time of this review, self-paced tutorials were scheduled to appear online in the early summer. The tutorials will help integrate Science Diagrams into the curriculum by including step-by-step instruction sheets that can be printed and used in the classroom. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Product support is provided through a product manual and a Help feature on the toolbar. I found the toolbar Help to be very useful. I used it extensively as I prepared a variety of diagrams for my science classes. The step-by-step directions were a welcome aid.

Support is available at the company's Web site. In addition, the technical support team can be contacted by e-mail (info@toolfactory.com). Software upgrades and patches can be found online. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Science Diagrams is a practical aid for students and teachers. The program is very easy to use with its drag and drop features. The pre-constructed diagrams focus on a wide variety of science topics.

This is definitely one of the easiest, most user-friendly programs that I have encountered in a long time. If you have a need for making science diagrams, this program is perfect. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, Gifted/Technology, Country Hills Elementary School, 10550 Westview Dr., Coral Springs, FL 33076; sallyfinley1@yahoo.com.


 
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