Pam Turnbull gives the latest addition to the Easiteach Studio the once over to see how it measures up to its stable mates
As promised, RM has released the next in its Easiteach range for whole-class teaching with whiteboard technology, and this time it's aimed at science. Following the philosophy of Easiteach Studio, all the tools and content integrate, allowing you to choose any of the tools from Easiteach Studio, Literacy, Maths and Science.
So what has Easiteach Science got to offer? Well, there are two products.
We can start with Easiteach Science Tools, which allows you to create your own interactive whiteboard activities with nine specific tools for reception through to key stage 3. First up are the Stopwatch and the Countdown timer which, though useful, don't initially sound that stunning.
But these are well thought out, especially as you can have as many as you want on screen at once - all of which can be started and stopped independently - useful for running a series of investigations.
The other tools include Magnetic Lines, another nice touch with labels attaching themselves to an image so that when you move the image on the screen the labels move too. This integrates well with the Web Diagram tool which, though not a full-blown mind-mapping program, allows you to create various concept maps from a range of designs, all of which are editable. A great assessment tool.
Also eminently practical is the Select Image Source tool, which does just that, allowing you live access to a camera or microscope while the Capture Image tool works alongside it.
The Science Symbols are a useful addition too, allowing specific units to be popped on screen within text or on to cards for a specific activity. But best of all are the Ruler and Callipers. These can be calibrated very simply - just take the image of an object via your attached camera and calibrate the ruler against something you know the length of. Once calibrated, the ruler can be extended, moved and rotated. The Calliper works in the same way, allowing you to determine radius or perimeter with you controlling the number of decimal places - a serious set of tools which are very easy to use even for the non-specialist teacher.
So on to the Content pack. Here you can access whole-class activities, simulations, concept cartoons, investigations, templates and video clips.
These are sorted into year groups - reception to Year 6 - or into type with the suggested year group provided.
Select your year group and you'll be shown activities for each science topic, each with an icon to show whether it is an investigation, simulation, video clip or whole class activity.
I particularly like the layout of the whole-class activities with the first page of the presentation showing the aim of the lesson and key vocabulary.
However, regardless of the type of activity, the last page is a detailed lesson plan providing the scientific knowledge used as well as suggested questions, extension and follow-up work. For those new to concept cartoons there is information on how to use these in the classroom, with 22 different cartoons for Year 6 alone.
There is a good range of investigations on offer and the templates provided for planning, recording and presenting will be familiar to those working in primary and secondary schools as they follow the popular Anne Goldsworthy model (a strong influence in key stage 3 science).
Don't forget this is an authoring package too, allowing you to use all the resources and tools to create your own interactive activities - and don't feel shy in using the literacy and maths toolbars. In addition, a science wordbank provides categorised key words for key stages 1 and 2, while the multimedia bank provides 18 separate files of concept cartoon characters, equipment drawings, warning signs, video clips and the like. A small fly in the ointment is the range of clip-art. True, there is a lot, but basic equipment images are missing, which is a shame.
All in all, this is a useful suite of tools and interactive activities, with the ideas in the planned lessons being well thought out.
Pam Turnbull is ICT co-ordinator at The Heys primary school, Tameside
Easiteach Science Tools
Science software (Windows) for whole-class teaching using whiteboards and projector technology. Price: pound;49 (single user)
Easiteach Science Content
Materials for use with Easiteach Science Tools.
Price: pound;299 (site licence)
Tel: 08709 200200
Fitness for purpose ****
Ease of use ****
Value for money ****