-  Every Body Has a Brain [Morphonix LLC (415) 331-5010]
iStartSmart [Hatch (800) 624-7968]

         Since the second half of the twentieth century, educators in the United States have been emphasizing the importance of early childhood education. It is believed that preparation from early childhood follows children for years to come, and that they will still be incorporating verbal, communication and coordination skills into their learning process as they get older. 
Showcase writers have selected two outstanding early childhood education entries for review:

Every Body Has a Brain     How do you get a 4-year-old child to sit in front of a computer, use a mouse, and enjoy learning interactively for prolonged periods? The secret is to populate the screen with dynamic characters, magical backgrounds, melodies, sounds and animations; and change the mouse/arrow into a colorful star or animated fireworks, luring the child into an intriguing adventure.
         This entry by Morphonix is an audio-visual masterpiece, beautifully designed to capture - and hold - the attention of the preschool or early elementary child (and beyond). 
Every Body Has a Brain is one of the most innovative entries we have received: Creative and artistic settings, music, sparkly mouse cursors, stories, games/lessons and animated cartoon characters keep the interface alive and exciting while the child interacts and learns complex facts about the brain. The inclusion of mouse-over audio identification of the buttons and lessons is a feature that is often missed by those who design software for the nonreader.
          The program is referred to as 'An interactive musical brain game' for Windows and Macintosh, but this understates its depth and breadth. The setting takes place, appropriately, in the brain of Phoebe Brainheart, a girl who loves to find out new things about the brain. Here, the child can explore each of four major areas of the brain: Brainstem, Cerebellum, Hippocampus and Cerebral Cortex. Buttons and hotspots launch lessons that include pertinent science and history definitions and facts. The Brainstem unit contains
Brain Train, where the child must identify the object that has a brain; and in History of the Brain - Reptile Roundup, the child moves the mouse over illustrations of dirt, leaves, grass and water to uncover remains of reptiles, learning facts about the brain of various species while improving motor skills.  In the Hippocampus unit, dancing baby hippos joyfully reinforce the main lesson: How this part of the brain helps us to remember. 
Every Body Has a Brain merited an EDDIE Award in the Early Learning - Science category. It can be purchased on a CD (Windows and Macintosh) or as a downloadable. Perhaps our only suggestion pertains to the CD itself, which would best serve this elegant program if it were self-launching.


         iStartSmart is an innovative computer learning system which supports the needs of the early childhood community, using standards-based content. It focuses on literacy and mathematics, developing 18 core skills essential for success in school. Adaptive teaching technology and scaffolded lessons ensure competency before the child can advance from the tutorial to the next levels (emergent, developing, developed and completed) .
         The method of delivery for the learning games is a single unit computer running Windows 7, and sporting a colorful 22" widescreen display with multi-touch capability. Accessories include a child-friendly, multi-colored mouse and keyboard; and a built-in webcam can input a photo of each child, to be used as an integral part of the log-in button.