Einstein is your tutor;Secondary;Reviews;Science

8th May 1998 at 01:00
GCSE PHYSICS REVISION. Cd-Rom. Europress. pound;19. (please check details with merlin)

This CD-Rom for science revision at GCSE offers a guide to the physics component of dual award science. It uses the idea of the "ultimate staff room" to take students through the main topics.

The staff room contains Joule, Faraday, Newton, Rutherford and Einstein, of course, but we also have Benjamin Franklin, Zhang Heng (the Chinese inventor of the seismometer) and Caroline Herschel, the only female member of this physics department.

Each one introduces an area of physics. Joule talks us through energy, with a Coronation Street accent; Zhang Heng takes us into waves, using a Chinese take-away voice; while Herschel (for the Earth and beyond) uses BBC English, despite the fact, as we are told, that she was born in Germany.

I have to admit that I like the way these sections are presented, although my cool 15-year-old daughter was less amused. Each topic "lesson" is well structured and the speaker takes us through it simultaneously with the written text on the screen. The sound and text combine well.

As well as tutorials on the main topics (with Newton, of course, for forces and motion), the disc has a quiz section with a range of multiple choice questions fired at random from the Steamship Europress. If you get them right, a guttural Einstein barks "you're a clever clogs", but a wrong answer receives a "Nein, Nein, Nein".

The disc also contains investigation type activities, and a section which the blurb describes as "real experiments in the virtual laboratory". A strange expression, perhaps, but their Virtual Circuit Board is perhaps no more disconnected from the real world than the Worcester Circuit Board that physics teachers know and love.

The disc also has a substantial section on exam practice, which allows the student to try a range of past questions and check answers. Utilities such as a word processor for making notes, a calculator to help with numerical questions and a formula sheet which gives a summary of all the formulae needed at this level are available at any time while the disc is in use.

Call me sad, but this is an enjoyable and amusing disc, especially for students revising at home. Unlike many CD-Rom and Internet resources I have seen, the material has at least been proof-read and checked for accuracy.

Jerry Wellington

* Jerry Wellington lectures in the division of education, the University of Sheffield

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