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Difficult to cell

Jackie Hardie reviews a package that explores biological processes

Mitosis and Meiosis: An Interactive Approach Third Edition

Illumination Educational Software pound;69.95, including site licence

Students find cell division difficult, so any resource that helps them is welcome, especially if it has clear animations and photomicrographs of real cells. This CD-Rom provides these, as well as a variety of other resources that can be used with students from GCSE to A-level.

The resource documents are in Microsoft Word format, so they can be changed as required, making the whole package very adaptable. These documents include summary texts, with and without images, gapped handouts, picture-matching exercises and the photographic images. All are clear and well presented. You can choose between the GCSE or ASA-level animations of both processes. The total animation time is 22 minutes for GCSE and 33 minutes for ASA-level.

The narration puts mitosis in the context of the cell cycle for all levels.

For meiosis, a range of terms (such as gene and allele) is introduced and then the process is explained using the concepts of independent assortment, crossing over and genetic diversity. The ASA-level section deals with gametogenesis too. You can also access a comparison of both types of division. There are questions at regular intervals to check understanding.

It is useful but not earth shattering. If there is a criticism, it is that the narrator's voice for the animation is oh-so-dull, but then you can always turn it off and use your own.

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