Most people will have heard of Jonathan Millerone of the authors, from his television appearances and his book, The Body In Question. This package is described as 'dynamic exploration of the human body', and comes complete with a very comprehensive illustrated booklet giving detailed factual information about the content of the seven programs - Cells; Digestion; Respiration; Circulation, Nerves; Muscles and Marathon. Also Included is a large colour wallchart.
The aim of the package is to illustrate the major processes which keep the body function: the different programs take the user, in turn, through the functioning of individual cells, the ways in which the digestive and respiratory systems provide what the cells need, the circulatory systems's task of distributing materials and removing waste products, and the importance of the nervous system in co-ordinating the body, and of the muscles in permitting activity. In each program the user is able to select specific features to concentrate on from a menu.
The final program, Marathon, is an interesting simulation which shows how the body responds to the prolonged periods of exercise involved in long distance running. The player controls the speed of the runner, who may be male or female, of variable age, lit or unlit etc, and monitors physiological variables such as heart and respiration rates. The aim is to ensure that the screen athlete completes the race in one piece by adjusting his or her speed to avoid heart attacks or collapse from exhaustion.
Not knowing a great deal about human biology myself, I asked a Biology teacher to look at Body Works for me. Like me, he was extremely impressed by the beautiful graphics, and felt that Nerves, Muscles and Respiration programs were particularly good. He was, however, disappointed with Digestion as the section on protein digestion did not bring in the role of the stomach, nor did food digestion focus on any of the breakdown products. No mention was made of the part played by the large intestine, and the inclusion of an overall view of the digestive system, graphically and functionally, would have been useful.
Perhaps the main weakness of the package is the fact that the level of complexity seems to vary from program to program. Some could be used by 13-14 year olds, while others are more suitable for older teenagers or adults. It is doubtful if Body Works will have much impact for home education purposes there is such a lot of detailed information given however, in the hands of a good teacher, the package does have possibilities for use in schools and colleges. As my Biology colleague said. 'The graphics explain the processes much better than I could'.
As a layperson, I liked the Marathon program best. It's a pity that the London Marathon is over I'm sure that many of the vast number of competitors would have found the simulation useful and interesting, though on second thoughts, perhaps it might have put them off completely'.
: kept to a minimum. Mainly SPACE to select the option, and ENTER to confirmKeyboard play
: very responsiveUse of colour
: quite excellent animation of the body processesGeneral Rating:
A very comprehensive package, but probably of more use for schools and colleges than for the home market. The animated graphics are superb as a teaching aid.