Ice-cool ideas

16th March 2007 at 00:00
A talking word processor, a virtual pop-up book and stories that make pupils start investigating whether ice cubes can be made more quickly using warm or cold water, are among the finalists for this year's Education Resources Awards.

The awards, now in their ninth year, will be presented on Friday at a gala dinner for more than 500 education professionals and manufac-turers held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. The TES is a sponsor of the awards, which are organised by Affinity Media, which gives them in partnership with the British Educational Suppliers Association.

The following are among the finalists:

Rising Stars - Brain Academy Science Shortlisted for Special Education

Stories lead to scientific research in this series, which is aimed at gifted and talented primary pupils. It can be used with the whole class but also works well with groups as a half-day activity.

Each topic is introduced by a story, which raises a scientific question and sets pupils off on a mission. In one, a hero's hope that his natural magnetism will attract a princess starts an investigation into strong and weak magnets. This leads to research about materials such as lodestone and magnetite and ends with open-ended questions.

In another mission, children have to investigate each other's teeth, find out what the different types of teeth are for and investigate the foods suitable for people and animals.

They also find out about real scientists of the past, replicate examples of their work - for example, experimenting to see whether ice cubes can be made more quickly using warm or cold water - and draw out its relevance to today's world.

Each book ends with a TASC wheel (thinking actively in a social context) in which children brainstorm ideas, build their knowledge and reflect on it, thinking about what they now know and how it can take them on to a further stage. The series was written in co-operation with the National Association for Able Children in Education.


Shoo Fly Publishing - The Three Little Cowboy Builders

Shortlisted for Primary Resources and Equipment and Innovation Award

Like the three little pigs whose houses were blown down by the wolf, the three little cowboy builders in this software come to grief through lack of education and training.

The program is a virtual pop-up book that aims to improve literacy and design technology skills. It can be manipulated on screen and has animation and narration.

Children can use the Story Creator to make their own story books, which can be printed off. The software can be used on interactive whiteboards and on individual PCs.

A resource bank of characters and backgrounds can be used for activities such as puppet making. The teacher support notes show how the package can be mapped on to curriculum areas.Visit

Crick Software - Clicker 5

Shortlisted for Special Education

Clicker 5 is a talking word processor that reads children's work back to them. It uses a system of grids to build words and sentences and is a flexible tool that can be employed throughout primary schools for children of all abilities. You can add your pictures or some from a clip-art library.

The program can be adapted for children with severe physical needs by using pointers, touch screen and head and hand switches.

The speech feedback facility builds confidence because it allows children to correct themselves. They can hear what they have written as well as see what they have typed. This was particularly important to an autistic child at Saltersgate Infants' School in Doncaster. Her extreme self-awareness prevented her from writing with a pen or pencil because the finished product always looked imperfect, but with Clicker 5 she was able to produce work that she was proud to show to the rest of the class. The software can be used in any subject -for example, in constructing sentences about science topics. It can also be adapted to languages by creating custom grids. Visit

AC Black - The Ultimate Teen Book Guide

Shortlisted for Secondary Resources and Equipment

This is the answer to the teenager with nothing to read. More than 700 books are reviewed by adult and young readers, with suggestions for what to move on to next. The reviews range from classics to cult fiction and bestsellers, and there are essays about difficult issues tackled in teenage writing, such as race.

The book also includes a poll of the favourite books of 100,000 readers aged 11 to 16. Not surprisingly, JK Rowling's Harry Potter is there at the top, along with Philip Pullman and Tolkien.

Authors who deal with personal issues, such as Jacqueline Wilson, are also popular, as are adventure stories about characters such as Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider, the teen spy.Visit www.acblack.comchildren Details of the finalists are available at: AWARD CATEGORIES

Special Education

Early Years

Primary Resources and Equipment

Secondary Resources and Equipment


Primary ICT

Secondary ICT

Leadership in Teaching

Educational Establishment of the Year

Education Exporter of the Year

Supplier of the Year: Less than pound;1 million turnover

Supplier of the Year: Between pound;1 million and pound;3 million turnover

Supplier of the Year: Over pound;3 million turnover

Innovation Award

Outstanding Achievement Award

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