Science ICT Resources - Roger Frost (TES 2004)
Multimedia Science Library from Sunflower Learning
Interactive physics software - Fable Multimedia
Ask Oscar tree database from Kudlian Soft
In the beginning, as chemistry and physics were making software, somehow
biology got left out. Here is a subject that is big on diagrams, rich in ideas
to model, and lots of iffy experiments to explain. If that is the wonder, it is
some treat to report this arrival a batch of titles this year. Cells (£60) is
one of four from Sunflower Learning offering loads of micrographs to show or put
side by side to compare. Clever touches include adding labels and being able to
switch between sharp diagram and fuzzy picture. Another, Osmosis offers
animation of what happens in a potato besides seeing osmosis at work in the
cell. As well as visuals you have controls to simulate the effect of changing
concentrations which is a nice way to follow-up a not too exciting class
experiment. Other titles include Enzymes a simulated experiment and
Circulation with the animation that this topic particularly needs. Given that
Sunflower Learnings chemistry pack is in the shortlist for a BETT Award,
theres hope that for some good biology tools in the year ahead.
Past BETT Award winners Fable Multimedia have Interactive Physics 2004 (from
£125), a new edition with improved interface and graphing to allow you to build
visual models with awesome detail. New and unique is an incredible feature
called tactile feedback. Using widely available feedback mice and game
joysticks, you can actually feel forces, motion, and collisions in the models
you build. Thats one to see as is physics-online.com, a compendium of 600 of
the Internets best sites, video lectures and interactive java applets
(teaching tools) (£149).
Though not at BETT ((but at the concurrent ASE meeting in Reading)) Newbyte have
a chemistry experiment simulation called Electrochemical Cells (£125 site).
Detailed enough for advanced level it shows electrodes eroding and metals
depositing just like the real thing. And behind the glassware you see animated
ions gain charges greatly helping to explain whats happening.
And in these days of highly monitored courses, publisher Heinemann has a set of
assessment tools to go with Catalyst, their Key Stage 3 Science course. The
scope of whats being offered here and much happening on-screen is one vision of
the future but still theres a room for the middle road in assessment. For
instance, Trumptech have QuickAssess which lets you create tests and exams using
a database of material. Beside this you can compare the stalwart Exampro (£60
from Doublestruck) which truly puts an end to cut and stick exams.
Primary schools will also find some goodies this year. Following Clipbank
for secondary schools, 4Learning have a lovely set of primary discs offering
wall to wall movie clips. Covering topics such as Forces, Habitats and Earth &
Beyond, six discs (from Channel 4, £35 each) show what a TV company must do
best. For example, theres a clip of a giant model of the solar system laid out
in an airfield and some wacky clips to explain different forces very clearly.
Gaining hold as a way to teach classification keys is the use of tree database
programs. Kudlian Softs Ask oscar (from £35) is another BETT Award nominee
with its in-place editing the easiest way to add information just by
clicking and typing. Dont think that passť, as the gain is that infants as well
as juniors can use it. It is worth comparing with another innovative database
called Flexitree 2 (Flexible Software, from £32) which works cleverly and
differently. This comes with the bonus of being able to save your as a set of
illustrated web pages. An old favourite to see, but now much updated is
Skeleton that lets you make a life size body model. You enter your body
measurements, hit print and then fix it together. This very hands-on way to
learn about bones comes from Soft-teach (£35).
Juniors, an online service (£500 pa) for school and home this year extends to
cover science. The Juniors' Science Module is large bank of online tutorials and
activities that also logs pupil progress. It is rich in animation, very upbeat
and an interesting backup resource. More teacher support comes from Virtual
Image who have Science Worksheets - a set of key stage 2 CDs containing
on-screen tests, sequencing and labelling exercises (£90). And for the
interactive whiteboard see RM who have the very clever Easiteach software in a
science flavour. Finally, as even the best resources merit time to learn and
take on, see training provider The IT Learning Exchange who offer courses that
put software, and kit like the Intel Microscope to good use.
Though the software drought in biology starts to recede, it is but one of
several areas with a shallow pool of resources. We are still a long way from
whole curriculum solutions that fill in the gaps though that is something that
is coming this way. Is thats whats wanted alongside typing pool classrooms?
Roger Frost is a science & ICT trainer and consultant.