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Reviewed by John Dabell
3P Learning won the ICT Company of the Year at the hugely prestigious BETT Awards in 2014. Think you haven’t heard of 3P Learning? I bet you have. If I said ‘Mathletics’, ‘Reading Eggs’ or ‘Spellodrome’ then you’ll know who I mean. Now the company has got something else up its sleeve, and it looks set to cause quite a stir…
IntoScience is a brand new interactive science platform designed specifically for secondary school use, and is nothing short of groundbreaking. It uses 3D environments, virtual experiments and deep contextual examples to bring science to life, and every topic and activity is mapped to the curriculum.
IntoScience is a first-rate example of ‘immersive learning’, because it presents content and environments that mirror real-life places, and so allows young people to explore the world around them from their school or home.
IntoScience from 3P Learning on Vimeo.
Using their own customisable avatar, students embark on a journey from their research lab that sees them take on various quests, in which get to explore the surrounding environment, complete enquiry-based practical learning tasks and gain ‘Enquiry Point’ rewards along the way. In the lab you’ll find an activity menu, from which you can load all the topics and activities. Each activity comes with a powerful lesson guide, which is viewable alongside it. There are also hundreds of HD videos that you can explore and use to support your content.
The resources on offer here are superb, and have been produced to a very high standard. The content is impressively realistic, and it’s clear that a mountain of work has gone into creating something special, full of adventure, challenge and even drama!
As a 3D character embarking on an adventure, children will easily become absorbed in its world – particularly when it comes to exploring the Biodome, tracking a tiger and retrieving a robotic arm. My own favourite adventure was exploring the Jenolan Caves – the largest cave system in the world, laser-scanned and turned into a completely faithful online experience. It’s bonkers, but real – at least in the virtual sense…
The idea of virtual experiments is an exciting one, simply because many real-life events can never be replicated in a school environment. Imagine having your own Crash Test facility, for example. It could never happen – but with IntoScience, it’s possible for students to use a simulated one to explore the effect of friction on stopping distance, through performing their own virtual experiments.
There’s more. A very popular feature is its real-time ‘Third Degree’ multiplayer science quiz. This works pretty much as it does in Mathletics, in that students compete against each other and race to answer as many questions as possible. If you haven’t used the Third Degree yet, then do – there’s nothing better for getting students engaged.
Teachers get a great deal by signing up to this brilliant platform. Upon signing in, you proceed directly to a console that gives you a quick overview of your current class and shows which students are currently online or offline.
From here, you can view class results and look at any one student in detail. The console also provides speedy access to the various resources, a results page and the 3D environments. One feature I really like is ‘Summon Class,’ which lets you navigate to a particular topic or activity and instantly transport a class or group to that area. It’s also great for keeping students focused on a given task.
The handy ‘Student View’ option meanwhile enables you to see the text input from all your learners in real time and view their answers as they are being written, thus giving you an insight into their thinking. There is also an activity menu that lists which materials the students have completed and what work they still have to do.
So how much does it cost? Well, that can depend on how many licenses you wish to purchase and size of the school, so a bit of negotiation may be in order. At the moment, IntoScience is available for Y7 and Y8, though hopefully this will grow. IntoScience is built on a software platform called Unity3D, which requires you to download and install a plugin for your web browser before you can use it.
One of the key findings of an Ofsted science survey published last year [PDF] was that the best science teachers set out to ‘first maintain curiosity’ in their pupils. It also pointed out that getting the grade is not the same as getting the science.
Well, IntoScience is onto a winner here. There’s plenty to stir curiosity, and a whole heap of inspiring content that will help students get the science and get the grade. Schools that make science interesting for their pupils raise achievement, and this comes through most effectively in practically-based investigations.
Virtual investigations have a very important part to play in helping pupils experience scientific phenomena and thereby maintain their curiosity. IntoScience is something you are going to hear a lot about. Take a look at 3P Learning’s walkthrough videos, and you’ll see the quality and high production values of this atmospheric resource.
VERDICT: Virtual Brilliance
IntoScience has been around for a while, but not in the UK. This is an Aussie platform that is now going global, so we’re getting the newer 1.5 version that comes with new features. It’s an excellent interactive 3D world of enquiry-based activities for bringing science to life, and represents a revolutionary response to open learning.
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