Dollars and Sense in Education
Inexpensive Educational Software
Inexpensive Educational Software
Barton M. Bresnik, Educational Software Editor
The Bellcom Connection
If you're looking for inexpensive programs for education, Don Bell offers one of the most comprehensive Public Domain libraries available for the 8-bit Atari. His catalog, available in print with a supplementary disk, lists hundreds of titles. In reply to my request for information on educational programs, he wrote: "Enclosed is a copy of the BELLCOM 1992 Catalogue. The Educational section is found on pages 29-31 and includes ...[such programs as Ancient] Civilization, Micro Tales, The Living Cell, and the Earth Sciences series. ...There are also other programs throughout the catalogue which could be used for educational purposes... [such as] Mandelbrot Sets, P.D. Paint, Paper Planes, Music Major, Learning To Program In Atari BASIC, and Assembly Language Tutorial."
Prices vary from $2.95 to $3.50 (U.S. dollars), depending on quantity ordered. Mr. Bell states he processes and ships within five days of receiving an order, though postal delivery may take three to five weeks. My own experience with orders from BELLCOM, placed recently and also a few years ago, has been reasonably prompt delivery of all items, with the inclusion of a "bonus" theme disk and an information disk. Though not all disks proved equally useful, they were all well described in the BELLCOM catalog. A number of the programs are now in use in my middle school classroom. Despite the Classic Atari's orphan status, BELLCOM continues to be an excellent source of educational software! For a catalog, write to:
BELLCOM Public Domain Software
P. O. Box 1043
The Noisy Giant
The following brief review of Bellcom's "Microtale 1" disk was prepared by Ms. Anna Mahan, Instructional Learning Assistant, Coelho Middle School, Attleboro MA 02703 USA.
"The Noisy Giant" is available from BELLCOM as "Microtale 1", disk #154, which is part of a highly motivational public domain reading package. It provides high interest reading for the average fifth or sixth grade reading level. The illustrations- with bright colors, cartoonlike quality, animation, and sound effects- make this program attractive for children in the elementary or middleschool age groups. The animals, people and flowers are an added attraction to the eye, helping to motivate students to continue reading and also helping to keep their attention focused on the story.
The plot is interesting enough to keep the reader's attention. An element of mystery is introduced when the giant finds the flowers destroyed and the animals all gone: children will read on to find out what happened. The vocabulary level is well-chosen, containing sufficient variety to maintain interest without imposing undue difficulty. Students exposed to this program will likely stay with it long enough for successful completion because the visual and auditory clues give powerful assistance to the child's comprehension of the text.
The introduction to the program documentation contains the following statement: "This software is FREE, compliments of the author - Charlie Parker. Please feel free to make copies for your friends and neighbors. If you like this software and would like to make a DONATION to the author, please write to: Charlie Parker, 14824 E. Colgate Dr., Aurora, CO 80014." Given the obvious effort that went into creation of "The Noisy Giant", it would be nice to know if Mr. Parker has written additional software of this type.
[Editor's Note: the address above has not been verifed.- BMB]