A summary of what's interesting at the BETT Show January 2003
Fable Multimedia Physics Online
2Simple Primary tools
If you'd toured the land last year, you would have wondered if there was
more to computers in science than using Microsoft PowerPoint & Excel. Make no
mistake: there's little wrong with that, but there is a burgeoning stock pile of
excellent software. Some of it is hard to find, all of it costs serious money
and much of it appears at the BETT show. It's the place to recommend for
'Windows' shopping, though this first item also works on a Mac.
The most promising bundle of the year, Multimedia Library for Science is great
software for chemistry. And it is not just titles like Diffusion and Atoms &
Ions (from Sunflower Learning £50 each) that smack of relevance, for here is a
set of activity-based learning tools with substance.
Why the plaudits? Well up to now weve seen experiment simulations and more, but
in Dissolving we can offer pupils a model where they can play with
temperature, concentration and evaporation. It is no 5-minute wonder; it is an
opportunity to go deeper into ideas like its hotter so more dissolves. If the
work is challenging, it feels like it is for the good.
Bonding is another favourite where you can take atoms of sodium and chlorine,
complete with electron shells and join them by dragging an electron from one to
the other. Another, Periodic Table lets you graph properties of the elements
as a 3-D histogram making for very interesting patterns in density, conductivity
and melting point. The MLS software runs easily in your Internet browser and can
be previewed online so you can check if it works for you. Its new and by the
time you see it, ready to run with online worksheets.
For physics models, see Fable Multimedia, who as last years BETT Award winner
have spawned a series of affordable teaching tools. Motion Time Graphs,
Transverse & Longitudinal Waves and Terminal Velocity (each £65) provide a
measured learning activity in deservingly difficult areas. For more of this and
stretching across the subject, see Physics Online (www.physics-online.com -
£295) where models meet movies and online programs (applets). You can sign up
for a trial and find not just great resources but a clever and easy way to store
teaching material beside them.
Do also see Science Online (from £225, Actis) with loads of original resources,
stretching from Key Stage 3 to advanced level and something of a tour de force.
For another service, this time at the exam revision end, SAM Learnings exam
revision website boasts some remarkable results.
For Biology, microscope cameras are now a must have and while many come
with countless cables to plug into televisions. Economatics have the Pupil Cam
which is a tidy one -piece unit. A freestanding model, the Vision Viewer (both
£250 and use USB) is available and combined with a projector, you may use it
If you have experienced video on the PC, youll have seen plenty of scratchy
quality stuff running in a small window. Channel Fours Plants and
Photosynthesis TV-ROM improves the quality up to a very useful level. Here
youll find 30 minutes of clips from past programs about plant adaptation and
the factors that limit photosynthesis, all showing nice and clear. There are
lesson plans, task sheets and images. There is no track listing but there are
other CD-ROMs covering forces, matter and the electromagnetic spectrum.
One of the more successful ideas in primary science is to teach classification
using a branching tree program. Flexitree 2 is (£TOO NEW) is one of these and
lets you organise a set of animals into an identification key. This new version
lets you save your tree, complete with pictures as a web site so you can expect
to see these all over the web soon. It also lets you have picture questions so
younger pupils can use it, and for the purists amongst us, a tree can now grow
downwards instead of up.
Those looking for tools to draw graphs and pictograms will find them at
Blackcat (Granada Learning) and Kudlian. If you teach infants steer a path
towards Infant Video Toolkit from 2Simple (from £75) where the tools are as
easy-peasy as they sound. Also see Simple Science (from £39) and the very
graphic database in 2Investigate (for KS2 from £120).
For primary science content see Expresso Education which has now grown a large
bank of science video and activity. Actis have Primary Online (from £50) with
its well above average online science activities matched to the QCA scheme of
work. For CD-ROM, Sherston have Badger Trails (from £32), a talking adventure
story that is interactive and much changed from the version that was a success
on Acorn machines. Another major upgrade is Sherstons Bodywise (from £50) a
spoken body atlas with many excellent diagrams that you can even print out and
Primary software tools including Flexitree 2 a branching tree program
Primary CD-ROM Badger Trails, Bodywise
Chemistry teaching tools CD-ROM
Sunflower Learning www.sunflowerlearning.com
Exam preparation at all levels
Sam Learning www.samlearning.com
Blackcat primary software tools; Science CD-ROM and an Online service GRANADA
Life Of Mammals teachers Pack:
Life Processes - Primary Science Pack.
Physics teaching tools
Fable Multimedia Tel: 020 8374 9008 www.fable.co.uk
Primary science activities and quality video
Espresso Education www.espresso.co.uk
Data handling tools for primary schools
Advanced Level Exam Question Banks and Primary Science resources Nelson Thornes
Tel 01242 267 367 www.nelsonthornes.com
Science teaching tools
Clipbank - Science videos on CDROM
Channel 4 Learning
Crocodile Chemistry and Physics - Laboratory simulations and more