Category Archives: Software

BioRender: Fabulous Science Image Editor

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 12.23.42 is an incredible FREE tool for students and teachers. With a large library of icons and process diagrams, it is a quick, clean and attractive way to build infographics, diagrams and figures.

It has a huge selection of backgrounds and templates, form cells and processes to organisms and biotech. Templates include science journal, poster and more.


PaperPile: Managing Citations in GoogleDocs

I have been looking for something that can replace MS Word’s citation manager and work in a similar way to Zotero. Here’s a quick post on how to use the PaperPile add-on for managing references in GoogleDocs. Paperpile is free from the Chrome store, though I am using the upgraded version.

The $50 SMARTBoard

This is just unbelievable, for two reasons:

1. If it works, you get thousands of dollars of functionality for near nowt.

2. You get an excuse to bring a Wii to school.

Here’s Johnny Lee and his Wii hacks (thanks to Henri Bemelmans for letting me know):

And while you’re at it…

Go and spend some time on the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) website – there are some really top-class talks.

Fizzix is Phun

I’m a bit worried about posting this so close to the DP exams*, but it is irresistable…

Ben Goldacre posted this video on the badscience blog – it’s a Physics toy for the computer, which can be downloaded here:

The comments page turned up a load of other good toys to play with, so go on over to the original post and check them out.

There are plenty of videos of Phun in action on YouTube.

*potential 10 on the procrastinometer

ACD Labs: Chemsketch – free modelling software

It’s not really a video, but you can build molecular models and make them move around on the screen, so it just about qualifies. It takes a wee while to get used to, but is worth the effort.

Demo videos here. Manuals here.

DP Bio teachers can use it to satisfy the modeling software stipulation of the 4/PSOW form. Enjoy!

EDIT – there is a shareware ($24.95) gif to flv encoder available here. I haven’t found any free software that can convert gif animations to flv files, so if anyone can help out, please let us know.

I have put a simple Chemsketch tutorial on making and animating glycine (word 2007 doc and SMART Board notebook file) in the downloads box on the right of this blog.


The joys of Chemsketch are almost limitless. Here is proof: Mildly Surprised Surferezene

PhET Simulations

PhET have some good simulations on their website (Physics and Chem):

PhET Sims

Well worth trawling through to find some good ideas (like this skate-ramp) for the SMART board.

EDIT: this site’s helpfulness rating is boosted by the ‘run offline’ button next to  each sim – they actually want us to download these and use them for free. Rock on. Needs Java.

Saving Videos

Firefox Users:

Just get one of the FlashVideo add-ons for your browser. I use Fast Video Download and it’s great for YouTube and GoogleVideo.

Everyone else:

Simple steps to saving videos to use on a SMART board.

1. Download an .flv player programme. This one does the trick:

2. For some videos on this blog, you can click on the ‘Download Video’ option beneath the screen. It will save the video to your hard drive as a .flv file. Your brand-new .flv player will play this, as will a SMART Board with updated drivers.

3. For other videos (directly taken from YouTube or GoogleVideo), you will need to go round the houses a bit:

a. Find the video and copy the full URL

b. Open in a new window

c. Paste the video URL into the input box and press ‘Download Video’

d. You will end up with a file called ‘get_video’ saved on your hard disk. To make it work, rename the file as ‘videoname.flv’

e. It should now work on your computer.
Flashcatcher is another product that can be used to save Flash files. It is a bit fickle, but for some Flash animations you just hover the cursor over the top-left corner and it will give you an option to save.

Remember – many video resources are copyright, and keeping them may be counted as breach of this copyright. However, in many schools internet access is so slow or restricted, the only chance you may have to show a class a decent video is to save it this way. Just be wise about spreading these copied files around.

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