Chill out with a penguin;Primary;Reviews;Books;Features amp; Arts

19th November 1999 at 00:00
Interfact Polar Lands. Deserts. Solar System. Two-Can Publishing pound;9.99 each title. Book and CD-Rom. Network packs available. INTERFACT REFERENCE. Space: book and disk. Two-Can Publishing pound;16.99.

The first three sets in this package are the latest offerings in a growing list of interactive CD-Roms with matching books. With demand for suitable curriculum applications of information and communications technology (ICT), teachers will no doubt welcome these materials for key stage 2 with their blend of learning and fun. Whether or not children concentrate only on the fun to the neglect of learning depends on the skill of the teacher to manage the resource.

Each pack contains a colourful wire-bound book for ease of reference, packed with information to supplement the disk. Some of the text is a shade too dense for many children, but the photographs are excellent, the graphics helpful and the lay-out stimulating. Constant links between book and disk feature in both formats, although the information required to answer some of the questions posed in the disks is not always evident. The more expensive reference pack is good value for the extra money.

The disks offer information and investigations across a range of subjects and topics. Some of the activities provide only factual details. In other cases the information relies on user-interaction in response to quizzes and games.

Among the more challenging tasks is the construction of desert and arctic food webs. By using the disk children are also able to unpack a space shuttle, plan a rescue when out of petrol in the desert and discover facts about icebergs. The educational value of a stimulated snowball fight does seem doubtful, although contestants must attempt to calculate (guess?) angles and velocity to score a direct hit to win the game.

Some of the fun activities will appeal to younger children and if carefully handled will also promote knowledge and understanding. If used as part of ICT as well as science and geography there may well be opportunity to use these attractive packs in an already crowded primary school day.

Colin Harris

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