D.C. Heath & Company 1985-1986

Hal Wexler

Educational programs were always popular in schools. A very fine Bostonian gentleman from D.C. Heath and Company Publishing, named Hal Wexler, contacted me and asked if I could do some Apple-II educational programs for them. I created many programs for D.C. Heath that were used in the High School setting. I was well equipped to create highly animated and graphically unique images to explain the concept that was being presented.

My first project was “The Simplest Living Things” (software microscope), where students could select slides and identify bacteria and simple organisms. The had a full working microscope with slide movement, coarse and fine focus, light control and magnification. In the detective mode, you would have to use all of your skills to use the microscope and identify the organism then select your guess. Overlays of many benign organisms were also present. You would need to weed out the safe ones from possible deadly ones.

My next title was, “Designing Electric Circuits” (breadboard to build circuits with lights, batteries and wires). You were given a 5×5 breadboard where you were to solve simple series circuits by placing connecting the parts on the breadboard. One lamp in series with the battery would glow at maximum brightness. Same circuit with two batteries would blow out the light! Circuit complexity would increase into parallel circuits and finally series/parallel circuits. Ohm’s law was introduced to the student and then using the lamps as resistance sources they would need to build a circuit that had a given series resistance.

“Blueprints For Green Plants” (create a plant to survive in a given biome), was a live simulation of how a plant works. Biomes ranged from deserts, grassy highlands and tropical to name a few. You have various plant parts like leaves, veins for water flow, storage cells, photosynthesis cells and others. You create your plany by dragging a particular cell to the large grid 64×64. For example, you must have more storage cells for the desert plants you design due to the lack of rainfall. Each plant must be surrounded by skin cells to be viable. When you are done, you put your plant into the biome and see how well it grows or dies because one of the needed cells are not in balance with others.

Forces in Liquids and Gases” (build a working wing for a glider), allowed students to build a cross section of a lifting wing and then place it on their glider and test fly it. They adjusted the heights of 16 section, front to rear, cross section of their wing. Bricks _do_ fly, but they do not glide too well. Once they are satisfied with the wing construction they mount it on their glider and use the joystick to control the glider’s flight. Score was based on distance flown with bonus points for aerial maneuvers, like looping and flying inverted, to a successful landing, right side up at a safe level of descent at touchdown. If you auger into the ground, no points for that run.

Combining the Elements” (building elements from the ground up), brought chemistry into the mix. Teaching the students about molecular weights and the various shells that electrons would ride in. Electrons spun wildly around the nucleus of their element visually showing the various shells. Advanced sections would allow students to combine various elements to produce a stable compound like table salt, by combining Sodium and Chlorine. Combining the Elements also covered chemical reactions like exothermic and endothermic.

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