Category Archives: Blog

Roman Kirsanow

It is with much sadness we are sharing the news that our friend and colleague, Roman Kirsanow has died in Coimbra Hospital, Portugal from lymphona. He was in his mid 40’s.

Roman was a very talented software engineer, and much more, and had been working in the area of educational software since the late 1980’s. He came from Newcastle in the North of England, and in the early days of computing, was introduced to programming by a teacher. he worked for a number of small companies in the UK at the time.

At the end of the 90’s Roman decided that he would like to live abroad, and work remotely using the power of the internet. After a spell in Wales, he spent several years in France, and had spells living in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, France again, Hungary, Romania, Sweden, and finally back to Portugal, where he loved the way of life.

We worked with Roman over a number of years. His first demo of his work was a dinosaur database on Acorn Archimedes computers, and he pursuaded us to adopt Java (so our programs would work online), and later on to produce the programs as apps! He also recently worked with the Fench company, Cabrilog.

Roman was always excited by the possibilities of computing and technology, and was very innovative with his idea, both commercially and technically. He was always interesting to talk to, he had a good sense of humour (even when in hospital), and was able to build friendships and connections wherever he went. He will be sadly missed.

A big thank you for the lovely expressions of love and sympathy for Roman. Roman’s funeral will be held on Saturday 10th November in Leiria, Portugal.

The Apollo Moon Missions

The recent biopic about Neil Armstrong brought back memories of the Apollo moon shots that happened in the late 1960’s, culminating of course in Apollo 11’s landing on the moon, and Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon’s surface.

Growing Sunflowers


This summer, we decided to start an experiment to grow sunflowers from seeds – just like our character, Smudge the Spaniel does in our activity Seeds to Plants.

Seeds to Plants is a popular science activity for children aged 4 to 8 years old. It is currently an app for iPads, a free app, and it also runs online (fre with ads). It is designed to help children learn that in order for plants to grow, they need a source of warmth, water, and to be kept away from the cold. In Seeds to Plants, this is done by children choosing the weather on each day, and a mix of rain and sunshine works best, and avoiding choosing snow for two days running!

In our case, we started with an old packet of seeds, some plastic cups, and some soil from the garden.

The first amazing thing that happend was when, on day 2 or 3, we saw shoots appearing above the soil. What was most amazing, was that the seeds still worked, despite having been in a packet for at least ten years!

After a few days, the first leaf appeared, and the plant started to grow! In the software activity, this is also one of the first noticeable thinsg to happen

Through June, the plants continued to grow. One plant is shorter than all the others, but it does continue to grow – in the software activity, all the plants are the same height, although the details about them are slightly different.

After six weeks, no heads had started to appear, but the plants were just about ready to be moved from their plastic cups into a larger plot: in the software activity, Smudge had anticipated this, and planted them into a patch of garden!

It has been a remarkable summer – and not just for England’s performance in the soccor World Cup – but we’ve had a heatwave that has lasted, really from late April, with hardly any rain. This has meant that we have needed to keep the plants watered – in the software activity, children do have the option of using a watering can. If children don’t water, then the plants will start to wilt, but by choosing rain, or watering them, the plants will recover

And that is just what happened to our plants – they would wilt, when we forgot to water, and then recover. I do remember not being able to watch the penalty shoot out against Colombia, going out and watering the garden, with success – the plants recovered, and England got through to play Sweden!


Last night it was clear, and we went outside after 11pm to look up at the Perseids, and hey presto, we saw lots of meteor streaks! It’s the first time I have seen multiple meteors: they happened every minute or two, some were long spectacluar streaks of light (it’s the ‘afterglow’), and some were shorter, almost like seeing a bird flying across the sky! Most of the streaks came from the North East, heading South West, but one or two came from different angles.

We also saw two satellites travelling across the night sky.


Naming Parts of Plants and Animals

This app helps children become familiar with the basic structure of plants, trees and different types of animals. As well as placing component parts and labels onto a picture, children can click to hear and read more information. It is available for iPad and Mac and on our subscription site.