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Animating discussions

ConCISE Project: Concept Cartoons in Science Education. By Stuart Naylor and Brenda Keogh. Millgate House Publishers. Posters pound;12 a set, Book pound;30.Tel: 01270 76314.

The ConCISE Project is a fascinating resource for use at key stage 2 and beyond, offering teachers an entertaining way of stimulating scientific thinking and discussion. Concept cartoons convey a range of differing views about the science to be found in everyday situations. Originally planned for use with teachers on in-service training courses, they are now available to a wider audience, largely through the support of the Association for Science Education.

The teacher's book is clearly written and accessible, offering the rationale behind the project. One of its strengths is the way in which strategies for practical use of the cartoons in teaching are provided. Thought has been given to the issue of differentiation and how the cartoons might be used across the age and ability ranges.

Assessment is dealt with in its broadest sense. It is here that one of the major uses of the resources could come into play. It is clear to see how the cartoons can be used to highlight confusion and misconceptions held by pupils, and therefore to form a clear judgment of their overall understanding. In this important section the writers explore links with formal and informal assesment, and with using assessment as a starting point for further learning.

The photocopiable resources offer a range of themes related to life processes in animals and plants. Each theme is given a photocopiable concept cartoon and a couple of paragraphs of concise information. The cartoon called New Plants has more than one possible right answer. This is explored in the accompanying text and pointers are offered towards investigational work to be covered.

All national curriculum science targets are covered effectively, including living things and the environment, materials, electricity and magnetism, forces and motion, light, sound, the Earth and beyond and energy. In each case a wide range of themes is supported by entertaining cartoons and a written commentary.

The A3 posters printed in bold colour are a delight and could have a much wider use than the intended age ranges. The individual characters featured crop up frequently throughout the set and would probably become familiar friends to younger children.

The only slight drawback is that the statements from each of the characters are printed in rather small text, which could prevent whole-class use. However, they are a stimulating and worthwhile aspect of the project.

Steve Blackman Steve Blackman is head of Great Alne primary school, Warwickshire

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