Summertime conjures visions of endless outdoor activities, but what protects a kid's brain from melting in the day's heat? JumpStart World, 2nd Grade (there's also a kindergarten version) is one of CNET Download.com's many educational software programs to keep students' brains sharp over vacation.
From the beginning, JumpStart World reminds me of a Second Life for second graders--the download and installation are lengthy, and slurp up quite a bit of memory. Users begin by registering, choosing an avatar, and entering an interactive 3D world replete with an orienting tutorial. The main difference is that kids go on "hero" missions at their virtual summer camp, earning shields and gems--the in-game currency--for following instructions, doing good deeds, and mastering fun games.… Read more