A summary of what's interesting at the BETT Show January 2003

Don't miss

Sunflower Learning
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 we’ve 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 ‘it’s 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. It’s 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 Learning’s 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 forever.
If you have experienced video on the PC, you’ll have seen plenty of scratchy quality stuff running in a small window. Channel Four’s ‘Plants and Photosynthesis TV-ROM’ improves the quality up to a very useful level. Here you’ll 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.
 

PRIMARY


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 Sherston’s Bodywise (from £50) a spoken body ‘atlas’ with many excellent diagrams that you can even print out and use.


CONTACTS


Primary software tools including Flexitree 2 – a branching tree program
Flexible Software

Primary CD-ROM Badger Trails, Bodywise
Sherston Software


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 LEARNING


Life Of Mammals teachers Pack:
Bbc Education,

Life Processes - Primary Science Pack.
Softease


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
Kudlian Soft


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
Crocodile Clips



 

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