Letts Science Explorer

Science Explorer was a piece of software I remembered back in school which ran on RM Window Box PC’s (although it did not require it, able to run on 16 and 32 bit Windows systems). Designed as a learning tool for ages 7 to 11, it focused on a variety of different science subjects.

Letts Science Explorer

The user interface is reminiscent of early adventure games like Myst, it makes heavy use if CD-ROM technology to load pre-rendered 3D images that give the impression you are in a 3D environment, albeit with a heavily dithered colour palette. You are supposedly transported to a underwater science facility which provided learning activity related to science, with different sections dedicated to various subjects of science.

Whilst the software does install some files to the hard drive, Science Explorer is run mainly off the CD-ROM, since hard drives at the time had limited storage capacity. This means the software is constantly accessing the cd drive, A moderately faster drive is recommended since the program loads the images off the drive as the user navigates the facility.

Letts Science Explorer

Each user has their own account, which is accessed by entering their name which keeps track of what that they have learned, the subjects they have accessed and their test scores, however there are no passwords.

Map

Letts Science Explorer
Letts Science Explorer

User Interface: Like Myst you navigate thought the facility using the mouse, where the cursor changes to indicate the direction where you are going. Moving to a different area, the software loads a different image from the CD-ROM. You can teleport to a different area instantly (depending on the CD-ROM speed) rather than having to keep clicking on the screen to navigate, and you an jump to a specific component in the subject

Letts Science Explorer

Each subject has the same formula, a Briefing, Investigation and a Tell Me More

Investigation

An interactive exercise relating to the subject, this is like a practical exercise and can very depending on the subject. Either you have a problem to solve, or a test that you can carry out using various factors. One example was the sound insulation exercise, where you can discover which materials are better at insulating sounds of a different pitch.

Briefing

A introduction to the subject, the text on screen is narrated and is typically accompted by an image relating to the subject.

Tell me More

Gives additional information relating to the subject, may not be part of the curriculum but still interesting to know.

Fact Point

Letts Science Explorer

Gives a interesting trivia relating to the type of science.

Interesting, since this came out in the late 90s, where the tower of Pisa had been shut due to stability concerns. Thankfully they managed to stabilize the tower and was able to reopen.

Letts Science Explorer

Compatibility

Since this old software was designed to be run on Windows 3.1 to 95 & 98, it contains some 16bit components that prevent it from functioning on modern 64bit Windows systems. PCem v16 was used to emulate the Windows 95 environment that the software was designed to run on, which was running from a ISO image (PCem can access a physical CD-ROM drive on your host PC, but its slow and has a delay which leads to stuttering.

External Links

Archive.org

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