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Sat, Aug 25, 2001 - Page 24 News List

Software companies target students

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Another fun way to learn math and science, although much more expensive, is ImagiProbe, another ImagiWorks program, which sells for US$329 and attaches to the back of the Palm. More than two dozen sensors can be added to the probe, which allows a user to conduct science experiments. For example, you can measure the pH level of your backyard pool, the dissolved oxygen in a nearby stream or your heart rate while on a treadmill. The data collected over time can be plotted on graphs on the Palm, and notes and sketches can be added. When you finish an experiment, you can beam the results to other hand-held devices. Most of the sensors run from $30 to $70.

To prepare for quizzes or tests, students can look at BoneUP (www.palmgear.com), US$10. You can create multiple-choice, true-or-false and flash-card questions in a variety of subjects and decide in which order the questions will be asked and how the program should handle wrong answers (for instance, whether to give you the right answer). BoneUP also tracks the questions you answer incorrectly and poses them more frequently. Quizzes can be edited in Palm's memo pad and beamed among classmates.

If you're getting ready to apply to college or graduate school, Kaplan, the test preparation company, offers the student Kaplan-to-Go (www.kaptest.com.mobile), at US$24.95 to US$29.95.

It allows you to practice for the Scholastic Assessment Tests, Graduate Record Examination or Graduate Management Admission Test in specific test areas or take full practice tests. The software includes a glossary, in case you're a little rusty on integers or irrational numbers, and pop-up menus explain why an answer was incorrect.

Aside from tests, reports and research papers usually make up the remainder of a student's assignments. But using a hand-held device to type anything of substance is time-consuming, even if you have retrained your hands to learn the Palm's Graffiti handwriting recognition program. If you're planning to use your hand-held computer to write papers, it's best to invest in an attachable pocket keyboard, which sells for about US$100. I wrote this story on a Palm, using a collapsible keyboard and a word processing program called WordSmith (www.bluenomad.com),US$29.95.

Wordsmith is compatible with Microsoft Word and has the feel of a word processing program built for a computer, although it was designed for a hand-held device. Like all word processing programs, WordSmith gives you a choice of fonts and point sizes, the ability to align text to the left, center or right, and cut and paste. It also has the same kind of search-and-replace features that programs for desktops do and includes keyboard shortcuts. One major drawback of WordSmith is that it doesn't include a spelling checker. Company officials say they plan to include one in the next version, to be released this fall. Until then, if you're a poor speller, you might try WriteHere, a bare-bones but free word processor developed by Soloway at Michigan (www.handheld.hice-dev.org).

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