Technology matters

14th September 2001 at 01:00
EXPLORING EVERYDAY PRODUCTS. CD-Rom pack. pound;20 or pound;10 with SCRAN licence_ Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network, Aberdeen House, 1 Marchhall Crescent, Edinburgh, EH16 5HP. tel 0131 662 1211; contact Conal Anderson or Neil Fraser

Is this it, the definitive answer to 5-14 environmental studies? After 11 years are teachers finally getting technology materials to help us tackle this area of study? Reading through the teachers' guide and the classroom activities of Exploring Everyday Products, the future certainly looks rosier.

This resource is aimed at an area of the 5-14 curriculum that has always presented a problem - knowledge and understanding. Design and make is the easy part. The classroom activities are informative and helpful, and save time in class preparation. Teacher activities are well mapped out, including pointers on what to encourage pupils to think about. The emphasis is on chalk and talk teaching and not handing out worksheets, which should please school inspectors.

The package is easy to work through. The animation and sounds are a good way of emphasising some of the processes and the icons are large enough for pupils to find quickly. It is fast and easy to move back to other areas. Information on the screen is kept to a minimum, enough to inform pupils then allow them to move on.

What also becomes apparent when looking through the pack is its possible application to other subjects. For example, the injection moulding process could be used to aid Higher craft and design, and the tin opener exercise helps to reinforce design folio work for S1, S2 and Standard grade.

This CD-Rom has a good chance of being used extensively in schools because there is nothing else available that covers so much of the technology side of environmental studies 5-14 in so compact a package.

It will appeal to all technical staff and pupils. There has been enough preparation put into the guide and activities to help teachers and enough variation in the work contained on the CD-Rom to keep pupils interested. For example, the activities geared towards the mobile telephone are relevant, given the number of pupils who now carry one. Although six products are mentioned in the program, the scope is there to add more.

Mark Fleming teaches at Trinity High School, Rutherglen

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