Gross anatomy doesn’t have to be gross anymore. Three-dimensional, interactive anatomy software allows for intricate, in-depth study of the human body with the click of a mouse.
The Ultimate Human Body Deluxe Edition, by DK Interactive Learning, provides three “scanners” or ways to view the interior of the body. The Systems Scanner allows the user to explore each body system. Its audio pronunciations and explanations accompany colorful diagrams of such details as the inside of an artery or a cross section of the pancreas. Visual and audio explanations of how the body works answer questions such as “What happens when you sleep?” and “How do you swallow?”
The 3-D Scanner has a textbox that shows the name of the bone, muscle, or organ identified by the mouse pointer. An arrow wheel gives the user amazing three-dimensional views of every organ and bone. The user can manipulate the skull, for example, to view it from the front, back, side, underside, inside—almost as though he or she were holding an actual skull.
The X-Ray Scanner uses X-ray–quality graphics to identify the bones and joints. A textbox names the bones indicated by the pointer, and the skeletal figure can be manipulated to show the left or right profile, the front, and a rear view.
The glossary and the index provide audio pronunciations of anatomical terms but not in-depth explanations of how body parts function. Internet links supply extra enrichment, and a rather difficult quiz-yourself section tests the user’s knowledge. The graphics, both two- and three-dimensional, are excellent, as are the audio and textual explanations. The treatment of some of the body systems—the reproductive system, for example—is vague. On the whole, however, the program provides a good understanding of the body for elementary-school students.
Glasklar’s Interactive Human Body provides greater depth than The Ultimate Human Body Deluxe Edition. The drawings, photos, and X-ray images are vividly detailed, and the three-dimensional animations show the function and motion of all body systems. A movable magnifying glass zooms in on the minutest details, and a movable X-ray viewer allows the user to pan along a human model to observe different body strata—the skeletal, muscular, circulatory, nervous, and lymphatic systems and the organs.
The interactive puzzles test the user’s basic knowledge of the skeleton and organs, and matching games review basic anatomical structures. The tests, ranging from easy to difficult, track progressively complex levels of knowledge. The program provides avenues for Internet research and contains a comprehensive glossary of scientific and common anatomical terms and their pronunciations as well as in-depth explanations of the functions they name. The program is well organized and easy to navigate.
Interactive Human Body also provides a detailed representation of reproduction, including the male and female reproduction systems, fertilization, gestation, and childbirth, and of the body’s growth and development. The manufacturer labels the product as suitable for ages 8 and up, but a protected password entry allows parents to limit their children’s access to details for which they may not be ready.
Of the two programs, Interactive Human Body provides greater depth and detail in all areas. The Ultimate Human Body Deluxe Edition is a good choice for elementary-school children who need an overview of body functions. The 3-D Scanner is particularly helpful for children who like hands-on learning, even though the manipulation is virtual. But Interactive Human Body is, indeed, much more interactive; it provides many avenues for exploration that are suited to gifted children, especially at the middle-school level.
Sarah Boone holds an M.A. in teaching and certification in gifted education. She teaches at Meredith College.