Christmas has definitely come early for science departments in English secondary schools. From early November, they can look forward to free Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscopes. The QX3, which won a Bett award at the start of the year, has attracted much attention since its launch last year.
Education Secretary Estelle Morris announced the give-away to coincide with the start of Science Year. Intel Play has donated 2,250 QX3s and the DfES has bought a batch of 1,183 to ensure that every secondary school in England receives a free microscope, which usually costs pound;89.95.
They will be distributed by TAG Learning, and will include a teachers' resources pack. Negotiations are under way for a similar deal for schools in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The microscopes are the first set of free resources available from the Kit Pot fund, which will be providing science equipment for schools throughout Science Year. Advanced skills science teachers will be next to benefit, with the donation of whiteboards and projectors over the next few months. They will also receive free software and training when the hardware arrives. For updates on the latest resource give-aways, keep an eye on the Science Year website at www.scienceyear. com More freebies are available through Sprints (Schools Participating in Recycling Initiative and New Technology Scheme). Unfortunately you won't be able to sit back and wait for the goodies to arrive. But if you take part in the Sprints recycling scheme, your school can earn points for equipment from suppliers including Hope Education, NES Arnold, Davies Sports and Philip Harris.
To participate, schools have to sign up online at www.sprints.org.uk or by calling 08451 302050. Once an account is set up, schools have to collect empty inkjet, laser and fax cartridges and old mobile phones, then call, fax or email the organiser, Eurosource (Europe), which will organise a pick-up.
Each phone and cartridge has a points value which will be credited to your school's account. When there are enough points, you can purchase products from nominated catalogues.
Any school that collects at least 50 cartridges will be entered for a draw with a first prize worth pound;2,000.
Sprints will be launched at the London Under 12s show at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, which runs from October 5-7. Teachers will be able to pick up a copy of the application form at stand VG5.
Also unveiled at London Under 12s is the fully operational Grid Club. The online service for seven to 11-year-olds was first announced at the Bett Show back in January but the full service is only just up and running.
Grid Club, which can be used at home or at school, provides a safe online environment that incorporates an interactive reference section, games, puzzles, stories and news, as well as information on a variety of topics useful for school projects.
With a link to Think.com, Grid Club members can also join online clubs that include organisations for collectors, animal lovers, football fans, arty types and outdoor adventurers. The supporting television programme, What If?, is being shown on Channel 4 on Thursday at around 9.50am.
Grid Club members must sign on through school, so full access to all the site's facilities is limited to the target age group. For further details, go to the website at www.gridclub. com or visit the Grid Club stand (M18) at London Under 12s.