29th September 2000 at 01:00
LOGIBLOCS EDUCATION KIT. Age 4-14, pound;159.90 plus VAT (includes teacher cards). Logiblocs, PO Box 375, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 3GA. Tel: 01727 763700. Website: www.logiblocs.com

Faced with teaching control technology, it is reassuring for the non-specialist to be offered an easy-to-use product. Logiblocs are safe, bright, robust and innovative sections or "blocs", which each play a part in making electronic circuits.

The pieces include colour-coded input and output devices such as light sensors, switches, buzzers, lights, time-delay switches and a metal detector. Logiblocs are labelled with internationally recognised LOGIC symbols, and use coloured LEDs as visual indicators. They overcome the need for crocodile clips, bits of wire and good luck. The interlocking blocs are designed so that they cannot be connected incorrectly. They are powered by a safe battery pack that makes control technology easy for even young children, who see the blocs as special building bricks, to experiment with.

Well-thought out support materials ensure that Logiblocs work for a range of ages and abilities. Packaged in a robust carry-case, tey include comprehensive instructions for teachers and 24 introductory project cards. Key stage 1 children can follow them with ease - reading is not essential to success. The cards are an excellent and thorough introduction to the Logibloc concept and the function of the individual blocs. The book contains a further 15 projects of varying complexity, such as a door alarm and water sensor.

These are well-suited to KS2 and KS3 pupils, who learn from the experience gained in following set projects and are inspired to design their own. Using them in the classroom, one student introduced a buzzer into the traffic light sequence to make a more realistic pelican crossing.

Adults presented with Logiblocs have been inspired by the technical challenge. The supporting website invites children to submit designs, and 10-year-olds at my school were so thrilled by their inventions they began to record them as diagrams to share with others.

Logiblocs are an excellent resource, offering endless creative and stimulating design opportunities.

Gillian Blatherwick is ICT co-ordinator at Rushey Mead primary school, Leicester

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