A book with good chemistry

13th May 2005 at 01:00
INTERMEDIATE 1 CHEMISTRY. By Norman Conquest. Hodder Gibson pound;14.99

The imminent demise of Standard grade chemistry and its likely replacement by Intermediate 1 and 2 has presented Scottish teachers with the age-old problem of the bottom end of the academic tree being starved of suitable resources.

Well, Norman Conquest has come up with the goods again.

Following his successful Intermediate 2 publication, he has written a book which plugs this gap.

Intermediate 1 Chemistry sticks closely to the arrangements document.

Chemists will find this particularly useful for topics such as personal needs, food and diet and drugs, for which there is a dearth of resources at this level.

The text is divided into 12 chapters, four for each of the three units of the course, with titles corresponding to the sub-sections. Conquest also includes two extra chapters, on multiple choice and extended answer questions covering the course and terms, such as vitamins, illegal drugs and legal drugs. These do not crop up in other school chemistry courses and thus merit specific mention.

This emphasis on language is carried throughout the text by judicious highlighting of key words and phrases and the inclusion of a glossary for each unit.

The text is written in unsophisticated language, making it accessible to the readership, and uses simple metaphors. So, when describing classifying the elements, he compares it to grouping CDs together as rock, soul, country and western and so on.

The book does not neglect the assessment requirements of Intermediate 1.

Each chapter contains questions in the text and a practice end-of-unit test before the official NABs test for each of the three units. Better still, it flags up the three sub-section tests for each unit at Access 3 level by providing a sample test for each. This is a very worthwhile facility and thoughtfully includes the lower academic level in the teaching process.

This is a colourfully presented publication, with good and relevant pictures, illustrations and diagrams included throughout and Scottish references wherever possible. The Forth road and railway bridges feature, as does the Longannet power station. Conquest also cleverly and amazingly manages to slip in a mention of the Arrochar Alps in a chemistry context in chapter 8, Plastics.

Experimental activities for each topic are clearly described, using good diagrams accompanied by simple text. Particular attention is paid to the required prescribed practical activities.

This book, with its strict adherence to course content and assessment requirements, could easily be used as the main resource for delivering Intermediate 1 and Access 3 chemistry courses. It makes a major contribution to school chemistry.

David McSorley is principal teacher of chemistry at Garnock Academy, North Ayrshire

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