All a matter of chemistry;Curriculum materials;Software

17th September 1999 at 01:00
SCETNet Chemistry. A Virtual Chemistry Department for Higher Still. CD Rom for Mac or Windows 95. pound;25. Scottish Council for Educational Technology 74 Victoria Crescent Road Glasgow G12 9JN

A re you one of the band of grey-haired chemistry teachers who think that Buckminsterfullerene is a prestigious London address, Kevlar a miracle cure for the follicly challenged and approach any CD-Rom with trepidation? The SCETNet Chemistry CD-Rom will come as some surprise. It's an all-in-one package of innovative resources for staff and pupils, presented in a stimulating and coherent format.

The CD is very simple to use and, on opening, directs you to a noticeboard listing the main content areas. Access can be gained via the Staff Base (for teachers), or the Classroom (for pupils), which cuts down on time spent trying to locate the appropriate area.

Going in through the Staff Base, teachers can find sites on the CD-Rom which illustrate how the web can be used effectively for teaching chemistry.

Several of these have been created by teachers. Another section, called Sites on the Web, includes direct links to universities and promotes material ideal for secondary school teachers.

Citrus, for example, targets education and reduces time spent searching on-line. Molecule Model Search has one of the best sources for molecules to view in the Rasmol program.

Staff Resources gives teachers access to good teaching materials including course notes for Higher Still at all levels and computer programs available on the Internet. Ian Dalgleish, the principal teacher of chemistry at Ardrossan Academy, has provided excellent student materials for all the Higher Still courses. A visit to his unit on "Introducing Carbon Compounds", for example, provides 3-D images of molecules which can be rotated and viewed from different angles.

This is a far superior teaching aid to the traditional "ball and stick", with which we are all so familiar.

Other areas for teachers are a Cyberschools Column, which appears in The Herald and includes Chem 4 Kids aimed at Standard grade; Curriculum Relevance, which divides the curriculum into physical, organic and inorganic areas for ease of use and contains materials matched to Higher Still learning outcomes; and Higher Still Arrangements - the 1997 version, unfortunately, so later changes are not included.

Pupils enter the CD via Classroom Access, which has 20 activities again divided into physical, organic and inorganic. This section encourages youngsters to take advantage of ICT for their own learning. The question and answer activities with a self-check facility are good for reinforcing classroom teaching.

This CD-Rom is an invaluable resource for chemistry departments and well worth adding to any school collection. The big plus factor is that it can still be used in most areas without direct access to the Internet.

Elizabeth Fulton is principal teacher of chemistry at Renfrew High School, Renfrewshire

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