[Inspiration (800) 877-4292, Grades 4-12]
InspireData is an impressive suite of programs designed to help students focus on data collection, manipulation and presentation.
The Getting Started manual is a well-written and concise tutorial, and an online help system is also available. An adult or savvy student familiar with computers can leaf through it in 15 minutes and be comfortably on the way to using the program. Instructions are clearly presented for both Windows and Macintosh users.
In brief, the program is set up to allow entering of data in Table View, and analysis of data in Plot View. Note that data can be entered directly or imported from other programs or from the Internet. Plot view contains numerous plot possibilities: Venn, Stack, Pie, Axis, Time Series, all of which can be customized with color and icons to make a student's final presentation a personal creation. Finally, the Slide Show feature allows students to arrange and present their work in a slide (page) form. They can add additional explanatory notes and update, change, rearrange and delete slides easily, at any time in the process.
Younger students unfamiliar with spreadsheets will find the numerous examples especially helpful, and should have little trouble moving between views and plot types. InspireData offers over 60 databases and examples, grouped by typical curricular arrangement. After exploring these samples, students will be empowered with the tools to make planning a project and collecting new data more fun than work.
This is a solid, informative, easy-to-use program that delivers exactly what it promises, at a reasonable price.