UniServe€Science News, Vol. 4, July 1996

Bacterial Growth 2

A simulation of a microbiology laboratory class

Gavin Ash is a lecturer in the School of Agriculture at Charles Sturt University

"This is a very professional piece of software that includes a good software installer, well written and easy to understand manuals (both staff and student), a well set out interface that is easy to navigate and clear aims."

Bacterial Growth 2, distributed by ScotCal Software, is a computer aided learning package designed for use by university students enrolled in first or second year microbiology. It is written using Toolbook and comes on two disks. It requires a 386 PC or better, a VGA monitor and Microsoft Windows 3.1. It covers the basics of bacterial growth in liquid culture in a dry lab situation.

The program is divided into several sections which can be accessed through a menu bar or icons down the left hand side of the screen. The student is introduced to the session through the aims and a library section which gives students an overview of the material to be covered. The practical is centred around the laboratory section in which the students can determine bacterial numbers and growth rates through a series of experiments. The students then use this information to determine the effect of parameters such as temperature, experimental duration and initial concentration of glucose on the growth of E. coli. Throughout this section students can export their results to their laboratory book. The students then use these results to answer a set of model questions which can be recorded and printed from within the program, or can be exported to a word processor. Throughout the program there is screen sensitive help and dialogue boxes which help students to complete the exercises successfully.

This is a very professional piece of software that includes a good software installer, well written and easy to understand manuals (both staff and student), a well set out interface that is easy to navigate and clear aims. Another good feature is that the manuals are supplied on disk so they can be modified and copied. The only criticisms of the software would be that some of the screens are cluttered (especially in the laboratory section), the quality of the video is poor (in the library section) and the hot words are not distinctive enough and so students may miss some of the information available. The system also tends to crash if there are other programs running in the background.

Overall, this software would provide the basis for a useful tutorial and as an adjunct to a traditional laboratory session.

Gavin Ash

gash@csu.edu.au

Requirements: IBM compatible computer (386 or better); VGA/SVGA display; Windows 3.1
Author: Mike Taite, ScotCal Software
Cost: Single user: Student price (disks and A5 guide) US$59; Education price: US$149
Standard price US$189
Departmental Site licence: Educational price: US$449; Standard US$565
Institutional Site Licence: Educational price: US$599; Standard US$749
Supplier: ScotCal Software, 34A Watson Street, Aberdeen AB2 4QL, Scotland UK. Telephone/Facsimile: +44(0)1224-620040, email: scotcal@dial.pipex.com, URL: http://www.demon.co.uk/scotcal/index.html
Free demonstration version: A demonstration version of this package can be downloaded from the above web site or from UniServe*Science's web site at http://www.usyd.edu.au/su/SCH/biol/bioldemos/ bioldemos.html
CTI Biology review: Another review of this product can be found at http://www.liv.ac.uk/ctibiol/lsec/october94/Bacterial.Growth.Review.html