Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

LEGO & Steven Spielberg Moviemaker Set

LEGO & Steven Spielberg Moviemaker Set

Fall 2001 Toys
Ages: 8 - 16 yrs.
Manufacturer: The LEGO Group
Price: $179.99
Anyone who has ever thought about purchasing one of the more expensive Lego packages would do well to consider the LEGO & Steven Spielberg Movie Maker Set. This is a very serious educational tool and a terrifically fun toy with unlimited possibilities for expansion.

The "toy" will unleash a child's creativity and encourage a group effort. The "educational tool" complements and reinforces educational standards for the elementary/middle school levels. For example, standards for grade 6 include: using geographical simulations which focus on the world (Social Studies), investigating and exploring the principles of magnetism and motors (Science), creating art that explores the needs and ideas of the artists of a time period (Art), using note taking, outlining, and summarizing strategies to record and present information (Language Arts), using appropriate resource materials to locate and evaluate information (Library Media), recognizing that music making and listening evoke personal responses (Music), and exploring how people from varied backgrounds and cultures have influenced mathematics (Math).

The set includes 433 LEGO pieces, a PC movie camera, editing software, a director's handbook, backdrops, and a user-friendly tutorial. While other LEGO sets are not necessary to the gainful use of this package, they could add substantially to the production aspect of a Moviemaker Set project.

The Logitec/QuickCam movie camera with integrated microphone is capable of internet video chat. Opening the door of a child's classroom by making live, real-time contact with teachers and schools elsewhere in the world, or even with a hospitalized student, alone makes this kit a must have. The camera is small, lightweight, and easily incorporated into any LEGO structure. The editing software has a straightforward interface with a substantial user help feature. Music, narration, titles, credits and special effects will ready the production for Hollywood.

The only drawback found concerns the need for a PC computer to use the camera included in the package. The software does not function on a Macintosh system, even one running Microsoft Windows under the newest version of Virtual PC. Given the number of Macintosh computers used in schools across the US, this is unfortunate. Camera drivers for the Macintosh, which are available for free download from the Logitec/QuickCam website, will not work with this camera. However, because the company does offer some support for Apple computers, there is always hope.

Carolyn Gershovich   ©2001 Parents' Choice

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