Chemistry offers excitement, but can so baffle the novice that discouragement soon takes hold. Much of the problem stems from the terminology. Technical terms coined from ancient and foreign languages and other, apparently interchangeable, terms drive many to despair.
The Complete A-Z Chemistry Handbook is helpful and encouraging. It is quick and easy to use, with a clear and authoritative style, perceptive cross-referencing and careful choice of examples.
Using this book is like having an experienced chemistry teacher at your side. Andrew Hunt has included worked examples and helpful historical background. He explains why terms are important, going beyond dry dictionary definitions.
Students of A and AS-level chemistry and GNVQ will find this book an excellent companion at every stage of their courses, and the detailed appendices provide help with revision and examination techniques. Non-specialists teaching chemistry should also find it invaluable.
GCSE A-Z DOUBLE AWARD SCIENCE HANDBOOK. By Keith Hirst. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;7.99.
The series format, including extensive cross-referencing, makes the information in GCSE A-Z Double Award Science Handbook easily accessible. Its friendly style, clear layout and helpful charts and diagrams will enable students to come to grips with many of the facts and concepts they will meet at GCSE. The revision lists and examiners' terms will be welcomed by those preparing for examinations.
Keith Hirst acknowledges the difficult balance between providing a simple explanation for an apprehensive student encountering a topic for the first time and giving a detailed answer for a candidate about to enter an examination hall. The scales tend to favour the former, and the most able readers will be left asking for more.
The claim to provide the best method of presenting calculations must be challenged, especially when, in the copy reviewed, miscalculations in the bond energy example result in a misleading conclusion. This aside, average to struggling students will find much of value here.
Hugh Rippin is former head of chemistry at Chenderit High School, Oxfordshire