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Rock formations take the biscuit

SCIENCE SCENE INVESTIGATIONS AND ASSESSMENT BOOK By John Avison, Mike Bailey and Graham Hill Hodder Stoughton Pounds 34.99.

The Science Scene Investigations and Assessment Book provides accompanying practical work for the three Science Scene textbooks. It could equally well support other key stage 3 courses: the materials are free standing, with minimal reference to the textbooks apart from cross-referencing them to the national curriculum.

It contains 96 photocopiable worksheets and accompanying teacher's notes. About one-third of the worksheets are open-ended investigations, the remainder being illustrative experiments, with direct instructions and questions. Most are familiar, but new to me is the idea of making biscuits to illustrate metamorphic rock formation (no, not rock cakes).

Worksheets look neat, formal, perhaps a little dated, with a lot of small print. Instructions are clear, but even open-ended investigations lack interesting contexts. Often fairly demanding, these sheets would be suitable for able, motivated students.

Teacher's notes occupy the last third of the book. Objectives, apparatus lists and notes on practical work are included. Levels at which Attainment Targets 1-4 can be assessed are listed; more guidance on interpretation would be useful. "Taking it Further" broadens rather than challenges; teachers might look elsewhere for more support on differentiation. Unusually, IT references are highly appropriate, not contrived.

This is a set of sound basic practical activities for students of average ability and above; but more original approaches are available.

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