Jerry Temple-Fry and Hugh Rippin welcome the latest A-level books.
Collins Advanced Modular Science is an ambitious new series of A-level textbooks designed to support the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board A-level science framework.
So far there are three books available, covering the core materials for physics, chemistry and biology, but we are promised further books to cover the option modules and a number of packs of support material. The books are written with the intention of being particularly suitable for students on self-study programmes.
Each of the core books is presented in the same clear, colourful and attractive style with a commendable use of illustrations and diagrams. Different type-faces and shaded boxes are used to identify tasks and key ideas. Each chapter contains a number of questions for students to answer as they work through the chapter. The answers to the questions at the back of the book give enough of the reasoning for most students to identify how they should tackle the problem without giving them step by step instructions.
A section at the end contains relevant data and formulae and a glossary which includes short definitions of many of the technical words used throughout the books. This last feature will be of particular use to the student on a self-supported study programme who comes across a phrase (for example, absorption spectrum) and needs a quick reminder of its meaning.
The books display an imaginative use of real people and situations to introduce many of the chapters. This helps to reinforce the idea that the science is relevant to real life, a welcome improvement on many of the last generation of text books.
The science is clearly explained, using diagrams, models, equations and calculations as appropriate, so that many students will be able to follow the ideas without too much help from the teacher. Key ideas are highlighted throughout the chapter so that students can check their progress.
Although these books are aimed directly at NEAB's course, their quality is such that they could be used with other courses, as they cover the core material that is common to all A-level syllabuses.
Chenderit high school students were enthusiastic about the design of the series and immediately hooked by the introductory sections to each chapter. They definitely preferred this series to their existing textbooks, but found it hard to choose between Collins and the Cambridge University Press modular sciences series reviewed last year (TES September 8).
The authors and the series editor have produced a consistent framework for A-level science that never seems artificial or contrived. If the options books and the support material make as effective use of colour, clear diagrams and text as the core books do, this will be a really good series and well worth the not inconsiderable investment.
Have a close look at these core books as they will support almost any A-level biology, chemistry or physics course regardless of the board that offers the qualification.
Jerry Temple-Fry is head of science and Hugh Rippin is head of chemistry at Chenderit High School, Banbury, Oxfordshire