A sound foundation to build on;Secondary Curriculum Materials

23rd May 1997 at 01:00
Foundation Science to 14, By Stephen Pople, Oxford University Press pound;7.50

Fans of Stephen Pople's earlier book, Science to 14, will be delighted with this new title, designed for students working towards levels 2 to 5 at key stage 3. And they will not be defrauded. Pople has resisted the temptation simp1y to edit out some material from the earlier work and include more pictures. This is a new book, rewritten, partly restructured, and with many new illustrations.

However, Foundation Science to 14 does look like its predecessor, so could easily be used alongside it without embarrassing individual pupils.

It consists of double-page information spreads, grouped into the attainment targets Sc2 (life processes and living things), Sc3(materials and their properties); and Sc4 (physical processes). They look inviting: not crowded, with plenty of small, useful illustrations, and logically arranged. The text is a delight. With every sentence carefully edited, it could not have been written more clearly.

Such painstaking attention to detail means there are no invisible barriers to understanding. Technical vocabulary - such as the difference between "strong" and "concentrated" acids - is explained carefully.

Everyday language is used - spit instead of saliva - and teachers can introduce more scientific terms when appropriate. Simply annotated diagrams reduce the amount of text. Difficult concepts are developed gradually, over several spreads. Even so, very occasionally, ideas remain elusive - the relationship between current and voltage for example.

Each spread carries up to six questions - often reinforcing scientific meanings - sentence completions, tables to fill in, and simple comprehension exercises. Answers are given. Three pages of "test and check" questions, with answers and referenced to the spreads, act as a useful content summary. There is also a helpful page on investigations for this level, and a suitably simple index.

This book is ideally suited to its target audience. Alongside an existing science course, and for revision at the end of key stage 3, it is an investment for which many students will surely be grateful.


Lynne Marjoram is head of science at Kidbrooke comprehensive, south-east London

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