The company Crocodile Clips develops and sells educational software and hardware and two of their pieces of software: Crocodile Physics and Crocodile Chemistry are aimed at providing realistic and scientifically accurate simulations which allow students to conduct experiments and set up and use 'virtual' equipment in school science.
Both pieces of software can be used by individual students or used in conjunction with an interactive whiteboard and projector to demonstrate experiments to a whole group.
Using either package is as easy as 'drag and drop'. Equipment and chemicals are selected from an easy to navigate menu and then placed anywhere on the blank canvass. In Crocodile Physics, equipment used in optics, electricity motion, forces and waves can be selected and used just like they can be in real life. Each piece will interact with the next piece creating an excellent virtual environment in which to work. The chemicals and glassware in Crocodile Chemistry behave like they do in real life as well. Adding a piece of potassium to a trough of water has the same affect as it does in real life but with this software not only are there no consumables required, there is no mess to clear away either!
The benefits to using these pieces of software are fairly obvious, apart form the initial cost of purchasing the licence, there are no chemicals or pieces of equipment to buy and the experiments covered are obviously exempt from safety precautions. Ever wanted to mix concentrated HCl with a Kg of potassium? You can see what happens using this software! Of course software such as this should never completely replace practical work but as far as virtual software goes, these two packages are about as good as it gets.
If you already have the Crocodile Clips suite of software installed on your school PCs then from a technicians point of view they are very good resources to play with from time to time, especially if you want to learn about an area which you are not familiar with. With Crocodile Physics for example you can see how a raybox can be used with lenses and mirrors and how pulleys and gears can be set up without having to physically get all of the equipment out.
For more information and purchasing details go to www.crocodile-clips.com.