Focus on Science Education

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Interactive learning and informative content are vital assets in any science classroom. Several software programs exist to help students visualize and analyze scientific information. Some programs simulate laboratory conditions for hands-on virtual experimentation, while others provide searchable information to supplement textbook learning. This month's Focus On examines a few of the latest programs designed to supplement science education for elementary, junior high and high school students.

 

Among the many science titles from CLEARVUE/eav, Clouds and What They Mean is a CD-ROM that would find a home in any Earth science or meteorology class for students in grades 4 through 9. The program provides a unique perspective on how cloud formations relate to weather changes. A fresh and interesting presentation attracts young students, while descriptions and images of cloud systems enhance their understanding. Students can watch an experiment demonstrating the vapor content of air and learn the basics of weather forecasting. All cloud types are clearly explained and classified, and the program teaches basic concepts about clouds in ways that intermediate (grades 4-6) and junior high students can comprehend.

Also from CLEARVUE/eav comes Observing Living Things: Oceans & Rain Forests. Appropriate for students in grades 7 through 12, the CD-ROM lets students explore the life cycles, habitats, and food chains of ocean and rain forest plants and animals. The "Oceans" segment reveals the wide variety of plant and animal life found there, while the "Rain Forests" segment focuses on more than 300 plant and animal species in the tropical forest.

Both of the programs include extra features such as video clips, quizzes, an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an on-disc teacher's guide and a presentation manager. The software is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh systems, and is available as a single disc, in lab packs (five discs), or site packs (30 discs). Related CD-ROM titles from CLEARVUE/eav include Understanding Weather & Climate, Earth Science, The Earth, What Is Earth Science?, Biomes, Earth's Natural Resources, and The Oceans.

 

Before entering junior high school, students will benefit from a well-rounded introduction to science education. Science Trek 4,5,6 is a multimedia program that covers science materials for the grade 4 to grade 6 curriculum. Its interactive activities feature sound, video, engaging graphics and music. Components include a multimedia CD, a student tracking system for teachers to chart their students' progress, a teacher resource document with ideas for further exploration, and an integrated Web site. The software is available in both Windows and Macintosh formats, and in both school and home versions. It may be used on standalone computers or on a network.

The program consists of 14 modules, fitting into four virtual pavilions: Living Things, the Physical Science of Matter, the Physical Science of Energy, and Earth and Space. Inside each pavilion are a science lab and a technology room where students complete experiments and select projects that can be completed at school or at home. Each pavilion also contains exhibits and displays.

A comprehensive teacher resource manual accompanies the program and consists of a software overview, an outline suggesting grade- and skills-based activities, additional activities and tasks to strengthen students' skills, suggested teaching strategies, and blackline masters for non-computer activities. Science Trek also helps teachers with assessment strategies, bibliographic materials, video resources and Web resources, and provides collections of digital and video images that could be used in the classroom.

 

Ranaco Corp. has introduced The Biology of Frogs, an educational interactive multimedia CD-ROM for junior and senior high school students. The detailed program will appeal to students who might otherwise refuse to take a class in biology to avoid dissection. It was designed to promote student-directed, inquiry-based learning in a fun environment. The software uses engaging graphics, animations, stereo sound and a three-dimensional frog named Figaro to guide students through modules such as Evolution, Ecology, Anatomy, and Conservation, as well as a self-examination.

In the Anatomy module, the student uses a scalpel to make the initial incision on a graphically enhanced digital frog. Once the realistic internal organs are exposed, the student then uses the forceps to begin removing each of the identified organs. Many screens have drive-down menus that allow the student to delve into greater detail. Also on this CD is a movie that teaches students about the declining amphibian populations and the important role that amphibians play in our environment.

 

With Geographic Information System (GIS) software technology, a classroom can obtain a digital atlas of the world and use it to solve real world problems. ESRI's ArcView GIS is a unique set of tools that allows teachers and students to access high-resolution, satellite-based Earth imagery in order to enhance understanding of the world's diverse and changing landscapes. GIS data can be accessed via an Internet browser, and maps can be printed out directly in the classroom, library or home. ArcView GIS can be put to use in settings ranging from Earth and space science classes to geography and biology classes.

ESRI's Web presence includes a number of training and support avenues for educators, such as Virtual Campus courses, classroom modules at the ArcLessons Web site (www.esri.com/arclessons), a K-12 online forum and additional education components. Its workshops aim to increase teachers' and students' understanding of, utilization of, and proficiency with geospatial information.

 

From ABC-CLIO, The Environmental Movement in the United States is an interactive encyclopedia designed to help students research topics related to the environment and how it has been affected by human actions. The Windows CD-ROM includes video and audio clips, photos, illustrations, tables and primary source documents, along with authoritative and comprehensive texts. Its user-friendly structure aims to help develop strong research skills, and a special section teaches students about sources and how to cite references. Students can search the CD-ROM by entry, keyword, text or media type, and can copy, export, and print out notes and references. The program's informational categories include biographies, documents, events, movements, organizations and a glossary. Another feature lets students view their trail through the program and see the connections made.

In addition, the encyclopedia links to a Web site where students can find an additional body of research and learning activities, and where teachers can find and submit lesson plans and Internet tips. The program contains nearly 400 individual entries, which focus on the people, events, organizations, and landmark legislation that have affected the environmental movement from the 1600s to the present. Subject headings include deforestation, Rachel Carson, Greenpeace, ecotourism, John Muir, recycling, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, ozone depletion and more.

 

For elementary students, the Science Sleuths series from Videodiscovery presents science learning in a mystery framework. The series consists of 24 CDs: six mysteries each for grades 3 through 6. Humorous characters introduce science mysteries for students to solve with clues found on the CD and with online resources. Teachers and students control each episode by selecting different clues, culled from video interviews, lab reports, documents, an encyclopedia and onscreen science tools, in order to research and build a logical case. An online lab book lets students record and print out their findings. The mystery problems are fictitious, but use real situations that incorporate life, earth, and physical science concepts.

The CD-ROMs are designed to support national standards and benchmarks for science education. Each episode aims to develop scientific knowledge, as well as skills in problem solving, critical thinking and logical analysis. When students have solved the mystery, a science review segment lets them test what they have learned. The CD-ROM version lets small groups build an electronic case sheet and use simulated lab tools, while a laserdisc version is also available to support full class discussions and exploration.

 

Finally, we examine a CD-ROM series designed to further science education for junior high and high school students. The Science Collections, from Discovery Channel School, include over 30 titles in three categories: Earth science, physical science and life science. These content-rich CD-ROMs engage students with a variety of animations, interactive experiments, articles, and quizzes. Documentary footage adds to students' explorations, and activities encourage students to observe, analyze and use higher-order thinking skills.

On each CD-ROM there are four main areas: the Theater (for viewing animations and documentaries), the Library (for articles and reference materials), the Laboratory (for interactive experiments and learning activities), and the Studio (for creating multimedia presentations). The software is suitable both for individual student use and for group activities.

Each CD-ROM contains a built-in word processor to be used as an activity journal, from which students can print or save their work. Other interactive multimedia tools include a slide show feature that allows students to create presentations with music and sound effects, a collection of reference tools, such as encyclopedia articles, and links to online help and quizzes at www.discoveryschool.com. A teacher's guide included on the CD-ROM offers detailed suggestions for how to use the Science Collections titles in the classroom, whether the room contains multiple computers or only a single workstation.

-Elizabeth Amberg
eamberg@thejournal.com

Contact Information

Clouds and What They Mean
Observing Living Things: Oceans & Rain Forests
CLEARVUE/eav
Chicago, IL
(800) 253-2788
www.clearvue.com

Science Trek 4,5,6
The NECTAR Foundation
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
(613) 224-3031
www.nectar.on.ca

The Biology of Frogs
Ranaco Corp.
Tucson, AZ
(800) 528-7023

ArcView GIS
ESRI
Redlands, CA
(909) 793-5953
www.esri.com

The Environmental Movement in the United States
ABC-CLIO
Santa Barbara, CA
(800) 368-6868
www.abc-clio.com

Science Sleuths
Videodiscovery
Seattle, WA
(800) 548-3472
www.videodiscovery.com

The Science Collections
Discovery Channel School
Bethesda, MD
(888) 892-3484
www.discoveryschool.com

Interactive learning and informative content are vital assets in any science classroom. Several software programs exist to help students visualize and analyze scientific information. Some programs simulate laboratory conditions for hands-on virtual experimentation, while others provide searchable information to supplement textbook learning. This month's Focus On examines a few of the latest programs designed to supplement science education for elementary, junior high and high school students.

 

Among the many science titles from CLEARVUE/eav, Clouds and What They Mean is a CD-ROM that would find a home in any Earth science or meteorology class for students in grades 4 through 9. The program provides a unique perspective on how cloud formations relate to weather changes. A fresh and interesting presentation attracts young students, while descriptions and images of cloud systems enhance their understanding. Students can watch an experiment demonstrating the vapor content of air and learn the basics of weather forecasting. All cloud types are clearly explained and classified, and the program teaches basic concepts about clouds in ways that intermediate (grades 4-6) and junior high students can comprehend.

Also from CLEARVUE/eav comes Observing Living Things: Oceans & Rain Forests. Appropriate for students in grades 7 through 12, the CD-ROM lets students explore the life cycles, habitats, and food chains of ocean and rain forest plants and animals. The "Oceans" segment reveals the wide variety of plant and animal life found there, while the "Rain Forests" segment focuses on more than 300 plant and animal species in the tropical forest.

Both of the programs include extra features such as video clips, quizzes, an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an on-disc teacher's guide and a presentation manager. The software is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh systems, and is available as a single disc, in lab packs (five discs), or site packs (30 discs). Related CD-ROM titles from CLEARVUE/eav include Understanding Weather & Climate, Earth Science, The Earth, What Is Earth Science?, Biomes, Earth's Natural Resources, and The Oceans.

 

Before entering junior high school, students will benefit from a well-rounded introduction to science education. Science Trek 4,5,6 is a multimedia program that covers science materials for the grade 4 to grade 6 curriculum. Its interactive activities feature sound, video, engaging graphics and music. Components include a multimedia CD, a student tracking system for teachers to chart their students' progress, a teacher resource document with ideas for further exploration, and an integrated Web site. The software is available in both Windows and Macintosh formats, and in both school and home versions. It may be used on standalone computers or on a network.

The program consists of 14 modules, fitting into four virtual pavilions: Living Things, the Physical Science of Matter, the Physical Science of Energy, and Earth and Space. Inside each pavilion are a science lab and a technology room where students complete experiments and select projects that can be completed at school or at home. Each pavilion also contains exhibits and displays.

A comprehensive teacher resource manual accompanies the program and consists of a software overview, an outline suggesting grade- and skills-based activities, additional activities and tasks to strengthen students' skills, suggested teaching strategies, and blackline masters for non-computer activities. Science Trek also helps teachers with assessment strategies, bibliographic materials, video resources and Web resources, and provides collections of digital and video images that could be used in the classroom.

 

Ranaco Corp. has introduced The Biology of Frogs, an educational interactive multimedia CD-ROM for junior and senior high school students. The detailed program will appeal to students who might otherwise refuse to take a class in biology to avoid dissection. It was designed to promote student-directed, inquiry-based learning in a fun environment. The software uses engaging graphics, animations, stereo sound and a three-dimensional frog named Figaro to guide students through modules such as Evolution, Ecology, Anatomy, and Conservation, as well as a self-examination.

In the Anatomy module, the student uses a scalpel to make the initial incision on a graphically enhanced digital frog. Once the realistic internal organs are exposed, the student then uses the forceps to begin removing each of the identified organs. Many screens have drive-down menus that allow the student to delve into greater detail. Also on this CD is a movie that teaches students about the declining amphibian populations and the important role that amphibians play in our environment.

 

With Geographic Information System (GIS) software technology, a classroom can obtain a digital atlas of the world and use it to solve real world problems. ESRI's ArcView GIS is a unique set of tools that allows teachers and students to access high-resolution, satellite-based Earth imagery in order to enhance understanding of the world's diverse and changing landscapes. GIS data can be accessed via an Internet browser, and maps can be printed out directly in the classroom, library or home. ArcView GIS can be put to use in settings ranging from Earth and space science classes to geography and biology classes.

ESRI's Web presence includes a number of training and support avenues for educators, such as Virtual Campus courses, classroom modules at the ArcLessons Web site (www.esri.com/arclessons), a K-12 online forum and additional education components. Its workshops aim to increase teachers' and students' understanding of, utilization of, and proficiency with geospatial information.

 

From ABC-CLIO, The Environmental Movement in the United States is an interactive encyclopedia designed to help students research topics related to the environment and how it has been affected by human actions. The Windows CD-ROM includes video and audio clips, photos, illustrations, tables and primary source documents, along with authoritative and comprehensive texts. Its user-friendly structure aims to help develop strong research skills, and a special section teaches students about sources and how to cite references. Students can search the CD-ROM by entry, keyword, text or media type, and can copy, export, and print out notes and references. The program's informational categories include biographies, documents, events, movements, organizations and a glossary. Another feature lets students view their trail through the program and see the connections made.

In addition, the encyclopedia links to a Web site where students can find an additional body of research and learning activities, and where teachers can find and submit lesson plans and Internet tips. The program contains nearly 400 individual entries, which focus on the people, events, organizations, and landmark legislation that have affected the environmental movement from the 1600s to the present. Subject headings include deforestation, Rachel Carson, Greenpeace, ecotourism, John Muir, recycling, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, ozone depletion and more.

 

For elementary students, the Science Sleuths series from Videodiscovery presents science learning in a mystery framework. The series consists of 24 CDs: six mysteries each for grades 3 through 6. Humorous characters introduce science mysteries for students to solve with clues found on the CD and with online resources. Teachers and students control each episode by selecting different clues, culled from video interviews, lab reports, documents, an encyclopedia and onscreen science tools, in order to research and build a logical case. An online lab book lets students record and print out their findings. The mystery problems are fictitious, but use real situations that incorporate life, earth, and physical science concepts.

The CD-ROMs are designed to support national standards and benchmarks for science education. Each episode aims to develop scientific knowledge, as well as skills in problem solving, critical thinking and logical analysis. When students have solved the mystery, a science review segment lets them test what they have learned. The CD-ROM version lets small groups build an electronic case sheet and use simulated lab tools, while a laserdisc version is also available to support full class discussions and exploration.

 

Finally, we examine a CD-ROM series designed to further science education for junior high and high school students. The Science Collections, from Discovery Channel School, include over 30 titles in three categories: Earth science, physical science and life science. These content-rich CD-ROMs engage students with a variety of animations, interactive experiments, articles, and quizzes. Documentary footage adds to students' explorations, and activities encourage students to observe, analyze and use higher-order thinking skills.

On each CD-ROM there are four main areas: the Theater (for viewing animations and documentaries), the Library (for articles and reference materials), the Laboratory (for interactive experiments and learning activities), and the Studio (for creating multimedia presentations). The software is suitable both for individual student use and for group activities.

Each CD-ROM contains a built-in word processor to be used as an activity journal, from which students can print or save their work. Other interactive multimedia tools include a slide show feature that allows students to create presentations with music and sound effects, a collection of reference tools, such as encyclopedia articles, and links to online help and quizzes at www.discoveryschool.com. A teacher's guide included on the CD-ROM offers detailed suggestions for how to use the Science Collections titles in the classroom, whether the room contains multiple computers or only a single workstation.

-Elizabeth Amberg
eamberg@thejournal.com

X@XOpenTag000Contact Information

X@XCloseTag000

Clouds and What They Mean
Observing Living Things: Oceans & Rain Forests
CLEARVUE/eav
Chicago, IL
(800) 253-2788
www.clearvue.com

Science Trek 4,5,6
The NECTAR Foundation
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
(613) 224-3031
www.nectar.on.ca

The Biology of Frogs
Ranaco Corp.
Tucson, AZ
(800) 528-7023

ArcView GIS
ESRI
Redlands, CA
(909) 793-5953
www.esri.com

The Environmental Movement in the United States
ABC-CLIO
Santa Barbara, CA
(800) 368-6868
www.abc-clio.com

Science Sleuths
Videodiscovery
Seattle, WA
(800) 548-3472
www.videodiscovery.com

The Science Collections
Discovery Channel School
Bethesda, MD
(888) 892-3484
www.discoveryschool.com

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.

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