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Science Resources - Roger Frost (TES 2005)

Don’t’ miss

  • Sunflower for Science – from Sunflower Learning

  • Fable Multimedia - from Fable

New for January 2006

Science software isn’t so scarce any more. We have models, simulations and revision tools aplenty but what turns software from eye-candy into useful is when it fits a lesson and solves a problem. What makes software great is when it moves us to another level and happily you’ll find some this year.
At first sight, ‘Simple Circuits’ (£60 from Sunflower) is an intuitive electric circuit simulator. You measure amps and volts in Ohms Law experiments, and you very efficiently learn how lamps share current in parallel circuits. You can switch between real and symbol views of a circuit which is very helpful but it’s remarkable that you can also see the sharing as ‘electrons’ deliver energy. Those who never understood what Mr Ohm was on about at last get a chance. What’s also good is that this fits school: it’s a teacher explaining tool and a purposeful pupil activity with as much challenge as you need. Sunflower Multimedia for Biology is up for a BETT Award and up to the plaudits heaped upon it.
From past BETT award winners Fable, comes Odyssey (£149) which delivers advanced animated chemical models like no others. In 80 topics you see 3D molecules colliding and vibrating to explain lone pairs, Boyle’s Law, ion solvation and hydrogen bonds. These models are compelling: every movement is calculated and rendered on screen. It’s mind-blowing, cutting edge and helps justify having computers on this planet.

For biology Food Webs: Ponds is a model of a living ecosystem and a tour-de-force. You can change any factor and show the ups and downs of predators, prey, oxygen, nitrogen in a pond. You can introduce a new organism into this ‘virtual food web’, pollute it or keep things as simple as you need. You can even feed the model seasonal data collected with a data logger.
Krucible (£849) from Immersive Education is a series of must-see models about forces, energy and waves that have set benchmark with do-anything, measure-anything simulated ‘laboratories’. The scope of this begs for a demonstration though each title now has pupil materials with pre-set experiments. Notwithstanding this competition, Crocodile Physics and Chemistry (£550) greet the year with new versions of their thorough models which can be dropped into a web page and thus enjoy life outside the program.
It’s rare to find book publishers hit the spot but ‘Scientifica’, a Nelson Thornes’ KS3 course, has a teacher’s CD that’s tightly linked to its textbook. It is like an electronic copy of the book but then it adds lesson starters, PowerPoints, reliable web links and smart assessment. As a very interesting evolution of the school book, Scientifica should be seen. Channel 4, the TV people have Clipbank, where moments from science programmes, like Seeing Science find their way onto disc for easy access to film and activities. Primary titles include Plants, Human Body, Light & Sound (£49) while secondary schools can have a DVD of ‘The Virtual Body’ with awe making special effects (£25). Some attractive library titles with video and facts hail from Didactics/AVP. Though chemistry is not the funniest of subjects, I’d recommend a look at 'Salts' (£13) where reacting metals are filmed with rare hilarity.



Primary teachers should see ‘Kar2ouche: Living Things in their environment’ (£138) a no less astounding tool to classify animals and discuss adaptation. The work, which entails making storyboards with animals feeding, even talking, in their habitats is unusual, creative and inspiring.
Following up the ever-so-sweet animation in ‘Butterflies, Bugs and other Beasties’ (£20) for age 6+, Spiny Software now have Ponds and Streams offering facts, a virtual pond dip and an identification key (£20). RM, the computer people have Easiteach Science - an add-on for whiteboard software of the same name. Included are concept cartoons, investigation templates and evidently enough to put this on the list for a BETT Award.
Also for primary, the respected Ginn New Star Science gains a set of CD’s to work hand in hand with the course. Called ‘Interactive Activities & Experiments’ (£65 ea. Harcourt) they offer structured walk-through experiments for each year. Sam Learning, well established as an exam result booster now have a new online service for primary schools (£VARIES TOO MUCh). Each pupil has an access code they can use to swot up on science at school or home as the system keeps records behind the screen.
More primary resources take shape as the ASE’s Primary CD (£15) made for Science Year. Careful scrutiny finds the buttons that take you to a bundle of science activities, easily missed on a quick browse and easy to recommend at the price. Last but not least, those looking for essential tools for infants would do well with Infant Video Toolkit 2 (£75) with its refreshing, unconventional approach to handling data. Another to see is 2Investigate (£39) which especially suits a classification topic.

Roger Frost is a science & ICT trainer and software consultant. He is author of his own advanced chemistry software - see top line above


Science CD-ROM - Sunflower Learning www.sunflowerlearning.com
Exam preparation, Exampro from Doublestruck www.exampro.co.uk
Infant software tools - 2simple Software www.2simplesoftware.com
Physics teaching tools - Fable Multimedia www.fable.co.uk

Laboratory simulations - Crocodile Clips www.crocodileclips.com


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