Like lots of other parents, I have gone through my fair share of buying those hard-to-resist educational software for my pre-school kids. And like lots of other parents, I have ended up often banging my head against the monitor wondering why the software insists that I need to install some prehistoric version of Quicktime when I already have the latest one installed. I know if I throw caution to the wind and click on the Proceed-To-Install-And-Screw-Up-My-System button, it will be Hello-It’s-Time-To-Find-My-Windows-Installation-Discs-And-Reinstall-My-System-Again.
So when I was shown the Memory Magic PC software disc, I glared at it with suspicion . When it didn’t bite back after I gave it a few tentative pokes, I asked the distributor, "What do you mean? No installation needed?"
"Exactly what I meant, you just stick it into you CDROM drive, and it will run in your browser. It’s built on Macromedia Shockwave. No installation needed."
And I’m glad to report that it was exactly as advertised! No installation required! Yeah!
OK… let’s get down to business. The Memory Magic Super Flash software is essentially a multimedia title that attempts to automate all the high speed flashing sequences that children attending classes like Shichida or Little Neuro Tree would be familiar with. The idea is to flash a sequence of pictures at high speed, after which the child is shown a palette of items that may or may not be in the sequence. The child then has to pick out all the items that did occur in the sequence. By doing so, the intent is to train the ability of the child to recognize pictures at a high speed, and to recall them subsequently, ie. get photographic memory.
There are 5 categories of flash cards that the child can choose from, ranging from animals (critters), food (edibles), to sports equipment (sporty things).
Upon selecting a category, the child can then do up to 9 levels of flashing of varying difficulty.
When the Start button is clicked, the sequence is then shown at high speed. You can repeat the sequence when it is finished by clicking on the Start button again. When the child is ready, clicking on the Find button will display a whole gallery of possible items from that particular category.
All the child has to do is to click on the item which he thinks he saw in the sequence. If it is correct, the item will be marked with a star, otherwise, it will just disappear.
Both my children (3.5yo and 10yo) enjoyed the title tremendously. It is especially fun for them when they play the software together.
Does it really improve memory? Well, it certainly requires a lot of concentration and focus during the flashing process if one is to remember anything in the sequence! And as this is indeed one of the key activities practiced by many "brain-training" enrichment programmes, there should be some merit to the techniques used. Overall, the software is very well-written and free of bugs, easy to run and use, and very fun to play. I find myself secretly playing it just to test my own, um, abilities.