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Digital Frog Software

by Kyle Zook

Wow. I have to say, over the years, I’ve come across a great multitude of educational software offerings, but many have fallen short of my expectations. I guess that’s why I feel so fortunate to have come across this series of scientific software offered by Digital Frog, International.

As you might guess from their quirky name, the flagship product of DFI is the award-winning Digital Frog 2. Basically, it’s a virtual frog dissection program, but it’s so much more than that. Besides being a worthy alternative to mass frog extinction, the software covers the ecology of 18 different frog species, giving in detail, notes about their lifecycle, behavior and biodiversity.

Click on the Dissection module and you are taken to a virtual lab, where the student of biology can use the mouse to make incisions on their virtual frog, and after the procedure is completed, treated to full-motion video of the actual dissection being performed. So, you get all of the knowledge with none of the mess. Having myself taken biology in public high school and remembering that somewhat traumatic experience, I couldn’t help feeling a bit bitter that software like this wasn’t available back then. A mere ten minutes into using this software I already felt like had learned more than I did in that public school setting.

This is a fantastic product for introducing your children ages 10 and up to biology. It ought to be required to use this before setting any scalpel to a real frog. Honestly, unless your kids are set on being doctors or biologists of some kind, you could easily get away with just using this software and never have to sully your hands with the real thing, and your kids would still be leagues ahead of the public school system. Also noteworthy is that all of DFI’s discs are hybrid, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a Mac or a PC user.

Of course, my favorite products by DFI are their Digital Field Trips. Not all of us can get away to explore the Central American rain forests and the great deserts of North America, but even if you do plan on making trips to these places, spending a little time with the Digital Field Trip series will make the experience tenfold as rewarding.

So far there are digital field trips available to the Canadian Wetlands, North American Deserts, and the Central American Rainforest. The main concept is a series of signposts you navigate through and are treated to 360º VR motion stills of each location. Within the pictures are organisms and signs you can click on that open up pop-up windows with videos and text about the creatures or landscape. One of the cool features about this program is that when you come across some scientific word you can just click on it and the program will define and pronounce it for you.

The fine folks at DFI have thought of everything to make their software fun and entertaining for children. In addition to the hundreds of screens of information on each subject, you can also find educational mini-games by exploring around the environment. And, best of all, you don’t have to worry about being bitten by bugs.

There’s never been a better time than now to get your hands on this software, too. Due to the fact that Digital Frog, International places licensed copies of Quicktime 6 on their CDs for their users’ convenience, and that the license expires on August 4, 2006, DFI will no longer be able to distribute these versions of their software. So until this date they are holding a “fire sale” where you can obtain your own copy of any of these products at half of what you would normally pay. It’s definitely worth the full price, but at half, well, perhaps you can pick up the whole series then. In my opinion, it’s well worth it. You can visit Digital Frog and find downloadable trials of these programs at their web site: http://www.digitalfrog.com.K.Z. ■