Getting IT into the labs

11th September 1998 at 01:00
IT ACTIVITIES FOR SCIENCE. A photocopiable pack. By Carol Chapman and John Lewis. Heinemann Pounds 59.95

Many science departments are still a long way from integrating information technology activities into their schemes of work, lesson plans and instructions to laboratory technicians. This pack will be worth its high price tag if it succeeds in changing this situation at key stage 3 - probably the crucial stage for integrating IT.

The 35 photocopiable activity worksheets quite rightly start from the science and then bring the IT into topics such as food, photosynthesis, plant growth, change of state, the Periodic Table, insulation, pressure, motion and energy transfer.

The use of IT with applica-tions such as spreadsheets, databases and data-logging is woven into the teaching and learning of the topic. In other words, IT is not just used for its own sake, which has been one of the mistakes of the past 15 years since the push of the "Micros in schools" scheme. Data-logging, for example, is not only made easier by the Guidance sections in this book on the three main types of data logger; but the classroom activities show how its use can enhance the teaching of a wide range of topics. There is also a small section on the use of CD-Roms, which is probably the easiest starting point for teachers. Structured worksheets on teaching alkali metals, for example, show teachers how The Chemistry Set (the most widely used CD-Rom in school science labs) can be guided to best effect.

This is a valuable package of activities. All science teachers need now is to get the school computers out of carefully guarded IT rooms and into the lab. Now that really will take some doing.

Jerry Wellington is reader in the University of Sheffield division of education and editor of 'PracticalWork in School Science: Which Way Now?', published by Routledge

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