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Charity begins in space

The Virtual Satellite Receiver will save you hours of downloading time, enliven learning and support village development in India, writes Cliff Porter

Thanks to an ingenious new piece of kit you can now view active volcanoes, weather systems, dust storms in the Sahara - or even the effects of global warming - quickly and easily in the classroom.

Of course, satellite images and the like are readily available on the internet - but locating, sorting and downloading them is often a time-consuming activity. The Virtual Satellite Receiver (VSR) from Tintisha Technologies promises to make such resources more readily accessible so that they can be used to enliven presentations and enhance self-study.

The VSR automatically downloads images and data so that they can be stored and viewed at any time. Students and teachers need simply to choose the type of data or images they want to collect and the VSR will locate and collect the relevant information using the internet.

Pre-set categories include temperature, rainfall, weather systems and urban areas, as well as searches for images of active volcanoes or the effects of the latest earthquakes. Users can also specify their own categories and the software can sequence images so that they can be used in animated classroom presentations.

A site licence for the VSR costs pound;100, and the software will work with dial-up or broadband internet access. Linked to an interactive whiteboard or data projector, it can bring up-to-the-minute satellite images and data straight into the classroom.

This is a powerful resource that will help to illustrate the global dimension of human activities and natural phenomena.

Tintisha has also developed the CD-Rom Virtual Food Webs to support pupils in key stages 4 and 5. As well as covering the central idea of feeding relationships, interactive simulations allow students to explore the impacts of drought, migration and disease.

Virtual experiments offer students the chance to practise sampling techniques, including the use of quadrats and transects.

Tintisha Technologies, which is making its first appearance at the Education Show, is run by a former teacher, Ian Pritchard. He was inspired to form the company after a chance meeting while travelling in India.

He discovered an organisation called Gram Vikas, which works in the field of village development using basic technologies in tandem with nature.

The charity has been helping to support sustainable development in the Orissa region of India since 1979. On his return to the UK Mr Pritchard was determined to give the project a helping hand.

The firm takes its name from the Tintisha palm, which grows in India and provides villagers with food, building materials and fuel. Apercentage of Tintisha's sales is donated to Gram Vikas to help it to continue its work.

Stand B105

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