Focus on Science

Article excerpt

Say the word "science," and students often conjure up images of test tubes and enigmatic formulas, along with learning lots of "boring" facts and figures. Perhaps it's no wonder then that software companies continue to use more multimedia enhancements in their science curriculum titles.

As more students have access to computers during science lab and activity periods, more educators can take advantage of a variety of science software programs to supplement their curriculum. In this Focus On, we'll sample titles that target various age groups and tackle different subjects, but are designed with a similar goal in mind: simplify learning to enhance the joy of scientific discovery and exploration.

For general science curricula in the early grades, Evergreen Project has released Partners For Growing, five integrated technology units for students in grades 2-4. The Midwest Garden Collaborative -- the Chicago Botanic Garden, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Botanical Garden, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and Holden Arboretum -- created these award-winning materials with funding from the National Science Foundation.

The Partners For Growing collection covers fives areas: The Diversity of Life; Interdependence: Links Between Plants and Animals; Plants, People and the Environment: A Garden Brings Them Together; Life Cycles of Plants; and Plant Growth: A Partnership of Parts. Each set contains a Teacher's Guide with 20 lessons and student journal sheets included on the cross-platform CD-ROM.

In addition to the teacher CD, each unit comes with five copies of the student Web CD, which includes all of the student visuals and data formatted as Web files so that students can also learn how to navigate Web pages without the possibility of accessing inappropriate sites or waiting for downloads. However, when educators are ready to utilize the Internet for classroom activities, embedded links in the CDs allow students to access regularly updated Web sites.

The Partners For Growing Web site also features additional activities for kids, like an interactive story and sing along activity and sample materials for interested teachers. The site includes a growing list of public gardens offering complementary field trips. Educators can then have the option of linking classroom lessons with real world field trips.

CD-ROM supplements to traditional science courses are a great way to illustrate difficult concepts. CyberEd Inc. has added eight new titles to its Interactive Biology Multimedia Courseware Series. The new titles are Anthropods, Cnidarians, Exploring Biology, Genetic Engineering, Human Impacts on the Environment, Mollusks, Sponges and Vertebrates, as well as an upgraded program titled Inside the Cell.

The CyberEd titles incorporate movie quality 3-D animations, professional narration and engaging interactions to help illustrate difficult biological concepts. Each CD-ROM correlates with a chapter found in most biology textbooks for high school or introductory college classes. The programs support most state and federal guidelines for science education.

Each title also includes a reproducible supplement with teaching objectives, a study guide, quiz and exam, and a glossary. As a registered customer, educators can also download supplemental materials from the CyberEd Web site. CyberEd programs are available in network and lab pack versions.

Another biology supplement tackles the often-difficult subject of ecosystems. Digital Studios has started a new Electric Biology series of college level CD-ROMs with Ecosystems as its first title in the series. The title is designed to accompany upper division biology courses as well as introductory level classes.

Presented in a feature-rich digital textbook format, students can take notes, copy and print selections and search for keywords and phrases. Animated movies and illustrations help facilitate understanding of energy flow and biogeochemical cycles. …