Free Educational Software
This is just a very quick overview of a few of the educational software packages that may be suitable for use in schools.
The KDE Edutainment project
The KDE project comprises many sub-projects that cover a wide range of computing areas, from office applications to development tools. One of these projects, the KDE Edutainment project, has education as focus. 
The software is divided into categories. Currently, these are Astronomy, Chemistry, Languages, Mathematics, Miscellaneous and Planning. Astronomy contains the very extensive program KStars which shows the starry night sky with some 10 000 objects. The application Kalzium belongs to Chemistry category, and offers an informative and clear presentation of the Periodic Table of the Elements. In the Languages section are many programs that let you practise a specific language, or that help you to learn expressions in other languages. KHangMan and KMessedWords are games which let children learn new words while playing. In the Mathematics category, we find KGeo, a program for the presentation and construction of geometric drawings.
Here are some more detailed descriptions of some of the packages:
Modelling and computing molecules. Ghemical is a free program for chemistry, which allows you to model and compute molecules relatively easily.
Tuxpaint is a free painting program for children.
GCompris lets a learner practise various skills. One module lets you practise reading clocks and telling the time, another offers a simple vector-based painting program, and a third teaches you where the different countries are situated in North and South America.
The Periodic Table of the Elements (PTE). Allows you navigate the periodic table. All the known elements are listed simply and clearly, and more information about the selected element can be shown.
It also offers a view that lets you go back in history, so that you can see which elements were already known at which point in time. Another view lets you can select the display according to the state of matter, so that you may explore which element are vapour, liquid or solid at which temperatures.
The KDE metronome. It provides visual and sound beats. It is becoming a more general music helper application with a tuning helper, a voicing component, a chords trainer and more.
KLogoTurtle is a Logo interpreter for KDE. It helps to teach computing and mathematics to beginning programmers.
While Logo is a general programming language, it is especially well known for its "turtle graphics": programming concepts are taught by giving instructions that move a marker called a "turtle" across the screen, drawing lines as it moves. While many programming languages make it complicated to interact with graphics on today's sophisticated computers, Logo sees to it that the learner has an immediately responsive drawing board to play with.
If you're interested in learning Logo, you should note that Brian Harvey has made his famous series of three programming texts freely available for personal use from his homepage. They are:
Symbolic Computing, a Logo programming text that concentrates on natural language processing rather than the graphics most people associate with Logo.
Advanced Techniques, in which discussions of more advanced Logo features alternate with sample projects using those features, with commentary on the structure and style of each.
Beyond Programming, brief introductions to six college-level computer science topics.
Geometry with the mouse. KGeo is a free geometry education program which recently became part of the KDE Edutainment project.
When the program first starts, you are presented with the main window and function panels at its sides. The main window is a construction board for geometric shapes, complete with a coordinate system. The function panels are laid out to be clear, and not overloaded with functions. Apart from the menu, there are five panels which the user may arrange themselves. Three of these panels are used for the construction of geometric shapes, another one contains functions for measuring and calculating lengths, areas, and so on, and the last one contains functions for moving or erasing shapes.
When the user works with KGeo, he is always in one of three modes: drawing, dragging, or tracing. In the drawing mode, you can draw geometric shapes and their attributes such as points, triangles, vectors, centres, parallels and angles. By combining these shapes and drawing methods, you can even construct reflections, translations or rotations. You can explore the shapes using tools to measure the circle areas, distances, angles, slopes or circumferences. All drawing buttons have an information window that appears when you hover over them with the mouse.
There are numerous sources of educational software on the web. Some starting places are:
SchoolForge. SchoolForge's mission is to unify independent organisations that advocate, use, and develop open resources for primary and secondary education.
- Edu-SLUG, the workspace of the Schools Linux User Group, for the creation of educational software for South African schools.
- You may find an informal collection of links loosely related to the Edubuntu lab project at del.icio.us, where you may register and post your own extensions to the list.