Heard the one about killer toads or why the polar bear has hairy pads on its feet? If not, read this book which will enthuse and enlighten pupils in S3 and 4.
The book, aimed at Credit and General levels, provides a section on each of the four compulsory topics - healthy living, materials, energy and the environment - and numerous case studies and extension panels which provide suggestions for practical work, though these are relatively infrequent and not particularly strong.
Each sub-section contains text split into headed paragraphs with key words in bold and questions for pupils. Photos and diagrams appear on almost every page.
A number of helpful illustrations are also given within the text, on topics such as body temperature control, effects of alcohol on the body, carbon steels and saving energy in the home.
Useful data is given throughout the book, including figures on the world's main energy supplies, the composition and properties of a range of alloys, the cost, properties and uses of a range of fuels and the source, effect and control of several air pollutants.
A particular virtue of the book is the reading sections for pupils whose interest in science may be flagging. It also shows the course to be one of substance, and will help support its credibility in the minds of pupils. There are descriptions of artificial respiration, vaccines and how blood circulation was discovered.
An article on killer toads illustrates how attempts at biological control can go wrong - cane toads, introduced to north-east Australia in 1935, are spreading and are capable of killing dogs and snakes. They have even attacked humans.
The combination of informative text, colourful photographs and diagrams, along with questions makes this a useful tool in the effort to stimulate S3S4 science students. which would be worthy of inclusion in the school library.
Archie Burns is principal teacher of chemistry at Lockerbie Academy, Dumfries and Galloway