Ideas for Education was a small company incorporated on January 3rd, 1972. It was owned and managed by the husband and wife team of Dr. Dennis and Mary Beard. The company was initially located at 87a Trowbridge Road, Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, England.
Mary Katherine Beard (née Saunders) was born in 1921 and died peacefully at their home in Kesh County, Fermanagh in Northern Ireland on January 6th, 2012. Dr. Dennis Beard Ph.D. M. Inst P. A.R.C.S. was born in 1922 and also died peacefully at their home on December 23rd, 2014.
Their daughter, Sarah Jane Beard, is their only child and runs Sarah Jane’s Cakes, a premier cake-making business in Fermanagh. Ms. Beard remembers playing with various Lectron System sets in her youth.
Dr. Beard had a varied career including as a business executive and as an educator. In 1971, his supporting efforts to the development of teaching aids for atomic physics resulted in the Teltron being awarded the prestigious 1971 Duke of Edinburgh’s Design Prize.
Continuing with his interest in education, Dr. Beard founded the Ideas for Education company and looked for products and projects that he could develop and/or represent. In the 1990’s, Dr. Beard moved to Northern Ireland and continued with his company’s business. In 2005, Dr. Beard put an advertisement in the June issue of EIS (Education in Science is the house magazine of the Association for Science Education) about his company making and repairing Van der Graaf generators and that his company’s Cloud Chambers featured a built-in illuminant.
According to Joseph Ralph Adams, the founder and owner of Adlab, Mary Beard went to a education show (Didacta ?) in Germany sometime in 1972. She saw the Lectron System and was very impressed with the product. She brought back home a Braun Buchlabor model to show her husband who was also similarly impressed. She likely met Manfred Walter at the show as well. The reader may recall that Braun divested themselves of the Lectron product line that year and sold its interests and assets to Mr. Walter who then formed the company Lectron, GmbH.
Dr. Beard created his own comprehensive catalog showing the Lectron System model offerings available in 1973. He also developed two special models sold exclusively in the UK: one to compliment the Nuffield Secondary Science course syllabus (IE 000540) and the Special UK Secondary Science Set (IE 000550) as an extension model to the Basic Set S (Grundsystem S). An intriguing model was also announced in the 1973 catalog for delivery in 1974 – The Pocket Lectron. Unfortunately, no description or photo of this model has been discovered. Finally, an English language introduction to the Cybernetic 1 model was written and shown in the catalog. Both links for the catalog and the English language introduction to the Cybernetic 1 model may be acquired on the Resellers -> Documentation page.
Dr. Beard was a good marketer and developed a slogan for the Lectron: “Nothing Easier!” Mr. Walter even adopted the slogan in some of his German language advertising.
Dr. Beard also entered into a separate Lectron sales alliance with Mr. Adams of Adlab to distribute the Lectron in the U.K. Mr. Adams also developed his own catalog (see the Resellers -> Documentation page for the link) but ordered his Lectron units through Ideas for Education rather than directly through Lectron, GmbH.