Starters with a finishing touch

3rd March 2006 at 00:00
The series of Science Lesson Starters from Virtual Image has been praised by physicists, chemists and biologists alike. The nine CD-Roms offer a variety of short and snappy revision or, as they claim, "starter"

activities in a range of formats.

There are straight calculations with accompanying images, drop-down boxes, puzzle-type odd-ones-out and many "fill in the correct words" activities.

The questions are visually well presented and there is immediate feedback on whether the answer is correct, making it very user-friendly.

I found these useful as a quick revision activity at the end, rather than the beginning, of a lesson or topic. They add interest and offer a quick-fire style of question that can succinctly tie up a lesson and gather together thoughts and methods for the students. As a set of questions on certain topics, they can be used for a short, focused activity. With an interactive whiteboard and students popping up with answers, they would be even better.

There are, however, a couple of points that should be considered if they are to be a useful addition to teaching and learning activities. The title is limiting and not always appropriate, so perhaps a more general description as snippets of work for revision and recapping would be more accurate.

Furthermore, the designation of the chemistry and biology key stage 4 CD-Roms for each particular year may not be helpful. In September, the science GCSEs change and there will be alterations to what students might do in Year 10 and 11, so schools may not follow the author's pattern.

There are also some errors in the colour section of the physics KS3 disc, where different-coloured light shines on various combinations of colours.

Apart from these concerns, these CD-Roms are a useful and effective resource. Some samples of the Physics Key Stage 3 Starters, along with four other Starters (chemistry and biology KS3, chemistry and biology Year 10) can be seen on the website .

Chemistry Year 11 is now out and is great for quick-fire revision. As a package these would be a useful, albeit expensive, addition to a department.

* Each Science Lesson Starter CD-Rom costs pound;75 plus VAT for a single-user licence; pound;150 plus VAT for a site licence; pound;225 plus VAT for an enhanced site licence, which includes home use by teachers and pupils

Virtual Image Stand SW-P52

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