Games used to teach kids to research pre-Google
February 22, 2009 9:52 AM   Subscribe

[Apple II educational software AND encyclopedia filter] When computers came to our library/learning center when I was in elementary school (between 1983-1986), I was one of the first kids to get to play a library learning game during "learning center" time and was the first to finish two games. 1) What were the names of these games? 2) What encyclopedia was used?

I believe there were two different games. Somewhat ironically, ithey was supposed to help us learn how to use the sets of the published sets of encyclopedias as reference materials. Each game required you to research questions in a volume of the encyclopedia -- one was in A, the other in M (again, I think) -- as you travelled from point to point.

Each game was on multiple 5.25" disks -- or used both sides. (I remember this because once my partner and I reached a certain point, he, ignorantly, thought that when it said to pull out the disk to change it, you had to turn it off, which meant we lost our work.)

I think the game was created by the encyclopedia that was necessary to use to answer the questions, but I'm not sure. Either way, finding the answers to the questions were specific to that "brand" of of encyclopedia. It wasn't World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica.

So my questions are:

1) What were the names of these games?
2) What encyclopedia was used?

posted by MCMikeNamara to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego games came with their own encyclopedia.
posted by belladonna at 11:16 AM on February 22, 2009

Response by poster: Thaks but it's definitely not the Carmen Sandiego games,

and one of questions in one game were definitely answered with volume A and the other volume M of the encyclopedias. I'm not sure if the letters are correct, but I know you only needed one volume, which meant if you were playing the game, you didn't have to the entire set in the same room as the computer, but if somebody had the letter you needed, you couldn't play.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:24 AM on February 22, 2009

MCMikeNamara, could it have been Grolier? Grolier made a series of educational software called "Adventures in Knowledge" in the mid-1980s. There's an article from a 1985 issue of Creative Computing by Carol A. Crowell that talks about the series. I gave an excerpt from the article while answering another question ("Name that Apple //e edutainment software" which talks specifically about one of the games), but here is the full blurb about the series:
System: IBM PC, Apple II, Atari, C64, Vice-20, Coleco Address: 999 Main, Suite 200 Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 (312) 790-1117 Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.

It should be no surprise that the world's largest publisher and distributor of encyclopedias would introduce a line of educational software designed not only to encourage reading but also to develop "essential information literacy" skills. The Adventures in Knowledge series integrates books and software in Secrets of Science Island which uses adventure to explain science facts. Using an authoritative reference book about explorers, Treasure Hunters promotes reading in history and geography through a global quest for buried treasure. A resource book offering additional learning activities for use by instructors, parents, and students is included with each software package. Step One for beginners and computer novices is an interactive program which uses nine learning modules for developing skills ranging from writing and editing to using the computer as a fully functioning, simulated piano.
The games sounded like they required special "reference books" -- perhaps not exactly proper encyclopedia volumes. Maybe Grolier had a separate series for its encyclopedia?

I also thought of Compton's Encyclopedia, Britannica's series for kids -- but a cursory search shows no software from Compton's that early (1980s).
posted by macguffin at 3:14 PM on February 22, 2009

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