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Primary;Resources;Science amp; technology;Books;Review

SMART SCIENCE: Electricity amp; Magnetism. Sound amp; Light. Energy Materials. Earth and Beyond. Forces. By Robert Snedden. Heinemann. pound;9.99 each

This series for children of eight-plus years aims to describe the basic concepts of science in a straightforward and interesting way. I particularly liked Materials, which is clear, includes some recent science and relates to everyday life. For instance, one activity describes how to make a plastic badge from milk and vinegar. The book on the difficult subject of Energy is less successful. It defines energy as "the ability to do work". I am not convinced that this is meaningful for young children. Few books describe gravity well but I think Forces does, in spite of a slip: "Ten newtons are roughly the force needed to move a mass of one kilogram on the Earth". Introducing a formula for density does not seem necessary or appropriate. Electricity amp; Magnetism and Sound amp; Light are both attractive books although I have doubts about the likelihood of generating electricity to light a bulb in the activity. Nevertheless, the series could be good for extension work with older primary pupils.

Douglas Newton is Professor of Education at Newcastle University

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