Exploration by design

Gillian Ravenscroft

Explore Active

Online subscription: up to 250 pupils pound;190pa; more than 250 Pounds 250pa.

CD-Rom: single user pound;150; multi-users pound;300, all plus VAT. For a free trial, visit www.heinemannexplore.co.uk

Tel: 01865 888066

Email: orders@harcourteducation.co.uk

The latest key stage 2 science resource from Heinemann is a lesson preparation and teaching tool for use with interactive whiteboards.

Subscribers to the web-based Explore Active software can access life processes, materials and physical processes, where they will find topics ranging from light sources to green plants, and from separating materials to the Earth in space.

The option to edit the featured lessons is an impressive facility. A maximum of five slides are available for each topic on which words may be highlighted, added, changed or hidden to create cloze procedure worksheets.

It is also possible to import pictures, images and Excel charts and export customised pages for storage elsewhere. The idea is to suit the needs of individual teachers, classes or groups of children with scope to create different versions of the same activity.

The content of each Explore Active topic provides a wealth of useful material. The format is easily navigable, with icons grouped around a central screen. Click on "Top facts" and a block of pertinent text appears.

Additional clicks bring more information or a "Big picture" in the form of video clips or photos.

Key words can be identified, interesting facts uncovered and the "Read more" section offers further detail, with brief definitions for highlighted words. Quizes and web links are available, along with suggested activities for each topic and printable resources that include blank planning and explanation boards for children to record their work on.

A "Go to" option leads to related topics and an Explore section, with pages of background information and images suitable for lesson preparation or children's research. And, with a username and password, pupils can access Explore Active at home.

Suggestions for practical activities either appear in bullet-point form or are set out in longer blocks of text. Questions encourage children to think about aspects of scientific enquiry, including how to make a fair test and how to record their results. If teachers feel a particular approach is not appropriate, they can use the edit tool.

This versatile resource requires Windows 98 or later, Internet Explorer 5.5 and Flash Player 7 (the last two available as free downloads). You have to disable pop-up blockers before you can save your changes. Transfer edited lessons to a hard drive in case the internet connection is suddenly lost.

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Gillian Ravenscroft

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