The right stuff

6th April 2001 at 01:00
OK, so we're all getting used to the ICT resources available to aid us in education, but do we have sufficient knowledge to use these tools to the best effect? Do you know where the best resources to do the job are? George Cole paints the broad picture while others concentrate on key areas and issues

It's no surprise to find that many science teachers regularly use ICT in their lessons. Not only is the technology ideal for scientific investigations, but there is a wide range of excellent resources both online and on CD-Rom. One of the most popular ICT activities in science is data-logging, which involves using sensors to record various data (such as temperature, sound or light). A computer is also used to sort, analyse and display the results. The availability of portable and palmtop computers means that data-logging can take place out in the field.

Computers can also be used for carrying out simulations of experiments or activities that are too dangerous or too expensive, or would simply take too long to conduct in real life, such as setting up an atomic chain reaction. Richard Hammond, education officer for science at Becta, says:

"The animation that ICT can provide links the changes the pupils observe to the theory, giving them a better understanding of what happens. However, while I'm enthusiastic about virtual experiments, they should not replace the real practical experience for pupils."

A good source of ideas, resources and information is the Virtual Teacher Centre (all website addresses appear at the end of this piece). If you're looking for ICT schemes of work for key stages 1-3, head for the DFEEstandards site.

A great place for finding and sharing ideas from other teachers is the Teacher Resource Exchange and the Association for Science Education (ASE) also has a useful website. Science teachers looking for NOF training should seriously consider the Science Consortium site. Trainees choose and teach six lessons from a list of 36, and learn how to use ICT in lessons while doing it.

Science teachers looking for advice on using the internet should consider buying Science online, a pound;9.99 booklet produced by Becta. This includes a teachers guide, photocopiable worksheets and extra support on the Virtual Teacher Centre. There are many sources of good science software. Science Education Software has a range of science software titles from around the world and also offers QGuides, simple guides to popular software packages such as Microsoft Word and Excel. The QGuides are A4-sized laminated booklets that unravel the mysteries of icons, windows, menus and features.

Becta's Educational Software Database has information on thousands of educational packages for all ages. Good primary software includes Black Cat's Numbers, Words and Pictures, an easy-to-use data-handling package. Granada Learning's My World of Science contains a mix of science resources from the My World Science packs, while Science Explorer I and II are a virtual science museum and a virtual science lab respectively. Both packages include a pupil notebook facility and printable activities that can be conducted away from the computer. Sherston's Science Fair features characters Vicky and Bert, who introduce young pupils to various concepts, such as sound, electricity and astronomy.

Anglia Multimedia, now part of Granada Learning, has built up an excellent range of science CD-Roms for secondary schools, covering everything from cells to energy to forces. Physics teachers will find Crocodile Clips simulation software very useful. Topics covered include electricity, optics, mechanics and sound. Software company New Media's science CD-Roms include the highly popular Chemistry Set 2000, which contains videos and interactive 3D molecules. Multimedia Science School uses CD-Rom and online resources and covers 38 topics. New Media's Concepts in Science series offers tutorial-style software with an online teacher and narration. If you want ideas and information on data-logging, look no further than Roger Frost's website which includes data-logging activities, data files and resources. He has also written Data logging in practice, a comprehensive guide to data-logging, available from the ASE.

There is also a lot of good science online curriculum content, much of it free. Primary school teachers should check out the Explore Science website, a popular site with lots of animations. Scienceweb is another free site with many resources including, worksheets and online activities. The Natural History's Quest site allows users to explore and interact with objects. The Tea Trail site has two zones. One looks at food and the human body, and the other has an interactive tea plant growing experiment and an investigation about keeping tea warm!

Walking with Woodlice lets schools, pupils and clubs take part in a UK-wide online woodlouse survey. Secondary School curriculum content includes Schoolscience, which covers science and industry. Topics include the chemistry of steelmaking, and medicines and drugs. LifeBytes is aimed at pupils aged 11-14 and offers many facts about health. Covers alcohol, drugs, smoking, relationships, mental health and more. Liverpool University's Matter project offers interactive teaching and learning materials on various science subjects for key stage 3 and above. The National Schools Observatory developed by the John Moores University in Liverpool is a great resource for astronomy, and schools, which join the project, can even control a telescope and take pictures of space. Using the internet isn't just about taking. The Stem project, hosted by the Science Museum and sponsored by Toshiba, offers schools a chance to participate in a national competition to create a website based around the science museum's exhibits. It's well worth a visit to this site.

A special thanks to Richard Hammond, Becta science education officer for his help

Science online booklet from Becta

Price: pound;9.99 Tel: 01203 416994

Science Education Software Tel: 015395 58081

Numbers, Words and Pictures from Black Cat

Price: pound;220 for first five-users

Tel: 01874 636835

Sherston's Science Fair

Price: pound;40

Tel: 01666 843200

My World of Science and Science Explorer I and II from Granada Learning

Price: pound;39 and pound;49 respectively

Tel: 0161 82172887

Anglia Multimedia Tel: 01603 760000

Crocodile Physics, Crocodile Chemistry and Crocodile Technology from Crocodile Clips Price: pound;190 each (five-user licence) Tel: 0131 226 1511

Chemistry Set 2000 and Concepts in Science (four discs in series from New Media

Price: pound;149.95 (Chemistry Set 2000) and pound;49.95 each( (set of four)

Concepts in Science Tel: 01494 574641

Data logging in Practice by Roger Frost Price: pound;17.50 available from most educational bookshops

Virtual Teacher Centre

ICT schemes of work for key stages 1-3

Teacher Resource Exchange

Association for Science Education (ASE)

Science Consortium

Becta's Educational Software Database

New Media

Roger Frost's

Explore science


Natural History's Quest site

Tea Trail

Walking with Woodlice



Liverpool University's Matter project

The National Schools Observatory


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