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Tripping the light fantastic;Science;Cover feature

3Schools are connecting to the National Grid for Learning and teachers are being trained, but what software, materials and support will be out there for them? George Cole investigates the role of good content for the cyberschool generation, followed by a subject-by-subject stock-check

The variety of science software on disc and on the Internet is staggering, and the good news for science teachers is that many titles are developed with class work in mind and well structured. Science titles often include useful features like worksheets too.

Science software has come a long way in a short time. From simply being an electronic version of a book, the best software now brings its subject to life on the screen through simulations, animations and interactive experiments and activities. However, some of the most effective software is short on what might be termed "bells and whistles," such as graphics and video.

Content that can be customised or adapted offers more flexibility and programs that let students enter their own data allow practical activities to be linked with desktop work. It's also not unusual to find science CD-Roms with built-in web links; by clicking on these links, users can access websites that hold related material.

The Internet is packed full of science-based sites and the biggest headache for teachers is searching for the most appropriate places. Some teachers have set up their own websites and are sharing their ideas and experiences with others. If you want to find an expert in a particular area, there is probably a site somewhere that will more than meet your needs. A promising development is the growing number of science teachers and departments that have created their own websites and pages. If you should ever use any ideas or suggestions put on a web site, a quick email back to the author(s) to acknowledge the fact is not only courteous, but encouraging too.

10 websites

BBC science in action site

www.bbc.co.uksia

Science ideas and experiments

www.explorescience.comuk

Austrian site with many good ideas in English or German

www.hasnerpl.asn-graz.ac.atphysikindex.html

Science Museum's pages

www.nmsi.ac.ukeducationngfl.html

Simulated experiments

www.newbyte.comuk

Links to various science sites

www.yahoo.co.uk

New Scientist home page

www.newscientist.com

Created by science department at Reigate School, includes quizzes and reports

www.markanderson.ndirect.co.ukindex.htm

Links to Channel 4's science programmes.

www.channel4.com

Science teacher training

www.scienceconsortium.com

10 resources

Junior Insight, pound;47 from Logotron. Tel: 01223 425558 www.logo.com

Being a Scientist, pound;45 from Anglia Multimedia. Tel: 01268 755811

www.anglia.co.uk

Simple Circuits, pound;25 from Soft Teach. Tel: 01985 840329

www.soft-teach.demon.co.uk

Smudge the Scientist, pound;39.14 from Storm Educational. Tel: 01935 817699 www.stormeducational.co.uk

Science Fair, pound;40 from Sherston. Tel: 01666 843200 www.sherston.co.uk

Science ExplorerScience Explorer II, pound;59 each from Granada Learning

Tel: 0161 827 2887 www.granadalearning.com

Chemistry Set 2000, pound;149.95 from New Media. Tel: 01491 413999

www.new-media.co.uk

Electricity amp; Magnetism by Two-Can, CD-Rom, pound;9.99 from Beagle Direct. Tel: 01933 443862

Practise Science for Key Stage 2 and National Tests at 11, pound;45 Semerc

Tel: 0161 627 4469 www.granadalearning.comcatalogs_index.html

Insight 2, pound;79 from Logotron. Tel: 01223 425558 www.logo.com

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