Save time and money with resources for primary and secondary science

 

Spurred on by pressures to get teachers ICT-trained, these last years have seen more teachers using ICT in science that anyone can recall. With time and money so precious this is laudable - more so because ICT has a habit of consuming both. ICT seems to do that remorselessly. So here to help is a selection of ideas that, one way or another, break the rule.

For ages people have asked how they’re supposed to use the Internet and Becta, a government agency has collected ideas to answer that. Idea number one is to use it to see what other teachers do, so at their Virtual Teachers Centre you’ll find science activities based on the ‘QCA Scheme of Work’. They make headway in matching the needs of ICT and science in primary and secondary schools.

Idea number two is that pupils might use the Internet for science lessons, and this takes shape in two photo-copiable manuals called Science Online (for secondary) and Primary Online (mixed subjects). Each is an eclectic mix of a dozen practical activities involving research and interaction. They show what’s possible and reassure that science teaching takes many forms.

For ages too, schools have seen the value of using sensors in science investigations. Primary schools can seriously consider ‘LogIT Explorer’, a tidy device that does all it needs to at low cost. It has an all important screen that shows temperature, light and sound levels around the school. It can record say, room temperatures, noise and sunlight levels over many days also. And although launched earlier this year, it’s based on established equipment costing a couple of hundred more.

Secondary schools can try the Heart Monitor from Pasco. Breaking tradition, it makes a worthwhile demonstration so you don’t need a set of them. While it seems pricey, its saves a great amount of setting up time: this unusually easy plug and play (USB) sensor is hard to forget how to use. You can gain extra value by using its USB link for other sensors that measure distance and pH. The nice software even makes it fun to use.

Take a look at ‘Force and motion’ (Fable) and you may agree that some things are worth paying for. This BETT award winning title offers eleven programs to help with ideas like the velocity-time graph, two dimensional collisions, and the orbits of satellites. Like the best software models, there are variables to change and results to see and record. For example in the ‘circular motion’ program students can investigate the relationship between speed and frequency, radius or mass. Another lets them draw vectors and change speed or distance in this bemusing topic. Unlike many, it installs easily on a network and there’s accompanying pupil material to save eons thinking this through.   

For biology at most secondary school levels, ‘Creatures’, Dr Sauro’s foxes and rabbit simulator, has become a classic. Set in a field of green and blue blobs, representing grass and rabbits, pupils watch their populations rise or extinguish as time passes. You can ask them to predict what will happen if they turn down the sun or burn the grass, and then they can try it on the simulator. Though it is an old title, it still cuts the mustard in many schools. It is inexpensive, will run well on an old PC and with the wonder of Internet shopping is at last available again. 

And so finally to Exampro, a database of questions you can use to roll your own test papers, mock exams and homework. With a version aimed at all subjects, at all levels, that it sounds like a massive undertaking, is some measure of the time it can save.

           

Value resources

 

1.         Primary On-Line or Science Online Price 9.95 From Becta  www.becta.org.uk

 

2.         Force and Motion, software for PC and Mac from Fable.

 

3.         LogIT Explorer, data logger for primary schools from Timstar, RM, Commotion, Griffin

 

4.         Heart Rate Sensor from Pasco, www.pasco.com Price approx PASPORT USB Link 71 plus 155 for sensor

 

5.         Creatures from Future Skill Software. Purchase online   http://www.fssc.demon.co.uk/EduSoft/edusoft.htm Approx 25 single /36 20-user

 

7.         Exampro / Testbase from Doublestruck, PO Box 208, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 1FX Tel: 01434 607 742 www.exampro.co.uk Various syllabi and key stage packages at around 100 per title

 

8.         Bodyworks – human body encyclopaedia CD-Rom from AVP Price 30 www.avp.co.uk    

 

10.       Science Explorer – key stage 2 software for PC, Mac and Acorn from Granada Learning. Price 49 Tel 0161 827 2927 www.granada-learning.co.uk

 

 

 

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