On learning that we had been selected to take part in SIP we
then had to face the very real task of looking at how we would
make our CD ROM. A co-ordinating group of teachers from many areas
of the school curriculum was established. This group met once
a week for about 40 minutes to plan the work and to keep things
progressing. Next step was to set up an advisory group of people
related to the school who were willing to help with support and
advice on how to tackle and carry out the project. Our advisory
group consisted of people from very diverse backgrounds .
This group met several times and was extremely important in
the early, developmental stages. The core group spent the first
six months talking about our aims and expectations for the project.
This time was extremely well spent even though we often felt that
we should have had more obvious progress made. We needed to answer
to vital questions:
1. Who is going to use this CD? and 2. How is it going to be
used? If the CD is to be used by the teacher in front of the whole
class then the content and structure would need to be compiled
and presented in a very different way than if the CD was to be
used by individuals. We decided to design the CD for individual
use. We wanted this to something the student could use to learn
from at their own pace - maybe learn new material or review and
revise previously seen material. In order to make it more than
information coming "at" a student we wanted to make it interactive
so that the student became an active participant in their own
learning and also in control of the pace and order of their studies.
Having decided who would use the CD and how we then needed to
look at what material was to be included on the CD. The science
teachers were asked for their opinions as to what material was
most appropriate for use at first year level and students were
surveyed. The students were asked to complete a questionnaire
about their experiences in science in school - what they liked
best/least, why they kept up/dropped science, who influenced you
most and are you happy with your choice? A mixed group of students
were then brought together and interviewed so we could follow
up and tease out some of the ideas that had been expressed. Many
students felt that science, while some of it is interesting it
is also very difficult. The language was quite off-putting, especially
for the weaker students. The majority of students we spoke to
said they really enjoyed doing experiments but that there weren't
enough of them. Many students stated a preference for particular
topics but the preference varied from individual to individual.
Following exhaustive discussion we finally drew up a set of
rules that we felt should apply to all topics selected for further
development. These three rules were: (i) the CD should stimulate
the interest of students (ii) it should make science less daunting
- make it real and practical and (iii) it should make science
more accessible to all students regardless of academic ability.
A short list of topics suitable for inclusion in the CD ROM was
This list included:
1. Magnetism - poles of a magnet, attraction and repulsion, magnetic
field, uses of magnets 2. Energy - forms of energy, renewable
and non-renewable, wise use of limited resources 3. Light - as
a form of energy, colours in white light, Newton's disk, mixing
colours (maybe link with colour separation) 4. Separation Techniques
- filtration, evaporation, distillation, sublimation and chromatography
5. Atoms - structure, chemical and physical and chemical changes,
reactions showing visible changes, idea of bonding 6. Acids and
Bases - definitions and examples, naturally occurring, indicators,
neutralisation reactions 7. Ecology - habitat studies - possibility
of plant structure or what ever happens to arise during field
study 8. The Heart - structure, how it works and dissection 9.
Food Types and Tests - healthy diet components, Benedict's test,
Biuret test, starch test and test for fats 10. Introduction to
astronomy -planets and the recent eclipse. Each science teacher
agreed to lead a group of students and one non-science teacher
or co-ordinating group member and take one topic from the list.
This meant that six topics were selected from the above list.
Student volunteers were sought from all year groups in the school
to get involved in the various aspects of designing and compiling
the CD. There were approximately sixty volunteers in total of
which about forty were involved from beginning to end. The next
step was to decide the platform that would support our material.
We had no knowledge of the type of packages that could be used
for such a task, however training became available in the use
of Hyperstudio as a multi-media authoring package. Other, more
sophisticated packages such as Illuminatis and Macromedia were
mentioned later on but no training was apparently available. We
decided to use Hyperstudio and found that we could become reasonably
proficient quite quickly. Two teachers,became tutors in Hyperstudio
and about 14 other teachers completed a course in the use of Hyperstudio.
We then ran a course for interested students and so the skills
were passed on quite quickly. A team of students and teachers
lead by worked on a template that would be used by all teams so
that the font and style would be standardised even though different
teams were working on different topics.
Work, at this stage progressed very rapidly, and soon we were
at the end of the school year.
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