Unpredictable outcomes can frustrate classroom-based investigations, so any interactive CD-Rom that can guarantee accurate results is a welcome addition to the key stage 2 teacher. Underwater Adventure and Lost in the Labyrinth are two such offerings that aim to reinforce understanding of forces and motion and to develop investigative skills.
Children select equipment and identify factors to make the tests fair, carry out investigations on screen, drag and drop results into tables, describe relationships and draw conclusions. The programs are pitched at nine to 11-year-olds and designed to be used in adventure mode, although teachers can run the investigations independently. Explanations are given for all forces covered in KS2, including friction, gravity, upthrust, air and water resistance.
Each adventure features the same characters, one of whom is based at mission control and accessed via a handheld interface for information and advice. Child-friendly on-screen directions make navigation straightforward and a repeat button enables the user to listen to instructions as often as necessary.
Nothing can completely usurp a well-planned hands-on practical investigation, but it is comforting to know alternatives exist.