Junior Control Insight


Software for computer control


From Logotron Web: www.logo.com


Verdict: Good for ages 11-12 though a bit too hard for its intended younger audience. Much too good to dismiss: if you’re prepared to learn it you can teach with it.

Suitable for purpose 3 out of 5

Value 4 out of 5


Logotron’s ‘Junior Control Insight’ is a breakthrough in software for teaching ‘computer control’. The curriculum area, that lies somewhere between ‘ICT’ and design & technology, is one of the ‘must do’s’ in school. The idea is to give pupils a perch on the workings of clever things – we often start by understanding car park barriers and use these to underpin cleverer things like how the rides work at Alton Towers.

This software takes a new approach to all that – for example no longer need do you write a computer program which reads like, “when input two is on turn on output one”. Instead, you click buttons and end up with a sentence that reads “when the door gets opened, turn on the light”. Now rid of this ‘control-voodoo’, if you can read even bad grammar, you can work out what will happen.

While the program will control a real control interface box, but you can for once do without any hardware. You drag switches, motors and ‘modules’ on a picture on screen and then link them together. You edit the modules so that when something happens things might switch on. You can arrange the switches and so on in a real scene like a child’s bedroom or in another screen, or instead see how to wire things up on a control box. 

So far, so brilliant and if you approach this right so it will remain. The key tip is that its best to work with the six on-screen projects supplied. Each is at a level of completeness, ranging from raw to finished. Starting with half-done versions, pupils from around the top of primary can use them.

To approach this wrong is to try to build a system from scratch. Not helping simplicity here are too many ways (toolbars, menus, and different views) to do the same thing and a tricky, cavernous dialogue box. But summon the patience to negotiate this, and a breakthrough will be at hand: at last you can do control with very little equipment.




Roger Frost's Dataloggerama is at www.rogerfrost.com