INDEX BY: Edition / Title
ICT activities for science 14-16
By Carole Chapman, John Lewis, Rob Musker, and Daniel Nicholson
Published in 1999 by Heinemann
256pp photocopiable pack plus Windows CDROM ISBN 435 67506 0 72.50 (+3.94 vat) 10 user and site licence upgrades available.

ICT activities for science 14-16

At the core of this pack are 40 ICT based practicals, encompassing Datalogging (18), Spreadsheet (5), Database (2), CD-ROM (7) Presentation (3) Intranet (3) and Internet (2) activities.

Each activity is supported by a "core" worksheet, with many "help" and "extension" sheets to allow differentiation (although not for the CD-ROM activities). There are accompanying support notes both for the teacher and the technican (these teachers will also find useful) for each activity. Novices are supported by instructions and information on using applications such as "Excel" and "Access", some of which, the authors claim, may be used with pupils, and by comprehensive instructions for using datalogging equipment from different suppliers. Material is copyright but purchasing institutions may make copies of the sheets for their own use.

Activities are cross-referenced to the National Curriculum for ICT skills by means of a "matching chart". The revised National Curriculum for ICT has only two skill paragraphs in skill 1 (Finding things out) but the "matching chart" refers to skills 1 a, b and d, so the information in this chart already appears out of date. Activities 1-25 (datalogging, spreadsheets and databases) are matched to Science SC1 on the same chart. Although referenced to the old P, O, A, E, of Experimental and Investigative Science, the chart does not appear to be out of kilter with the New National Curriculum SC1. This being the case, the cross referencing chart will be useful for teachers who wish to, e.g., assess predicting and planning skills as they can quickly judge when an extension, rather than core, sheet should be used.

The Help sheets may be of limited use as they do not contain a method. Reference to the Activity sheets shows the Help sheets are often intended to make recording results or plotting graphs easier and that differentiation by support is expected of the teacher. This is an important point to note as I have taught many children who would require teacher support and could not manage with the worksheets, including the Help sheets, alone. This is not to say the sheets are not useful. They are; and I know of one school which, by colour coding the different levels of worksheet in the sister 11-13 pack, has created a resource which children are able to use consistently and confidently.

The CD-ROM supports activities 19 - 38. The terms of use specify single user only, with no right to install it on a network. Content but not software may be copied for use by the purchasing institution.

I had very minor problems when installing the CD on both the desktop and the laptop pc I used for the trial, and I had to resort to following the directory structure to open some of the files as not all hyperlinks worked. A 'readme' file inside a "version two" folder on the CD informed me there were two versions of files on the CD-ROM, should the default version not work properly. Unfortunately, carrying out the instructions in this file and installing version 2 did not solve any of the problems I had encountered. Excerpts of pipe music play when navigating through the CD and I would hate to have these sounds playing constantly in a classroom. These factors combine to make a dry run before using the CD with children highly advisable.

A lack of resources dealing with datalogging (activities 1-18) makes the CD appear meagre in comparison to the whole resource pack and it could have been augmented with material to support this area. (Worksheets 19-38 are on the CD-ROM in pdf format, accompanied by a copy of Acrobat Reader). Having said that, its content is well thought out and attractive and provides good support for the target activities. One of the spreadsheet files elegantly creates a graph as data is typed in; Intranet pages work well, with links to what would seem to be stable websites for extension activities. Apart from the glitches mentioned above, the CD seems to be put together very professionally.

This pack would be a versatile resource for any science department. It has the potential to support a range of science activities within the KS 4 curriculum and also to encourage teachers to make more use of ICT in their teaching. At a cost of 80 it represents excellent value for money.

John McCormick
Science Education Tutor, Liverpool John Moores University