Banish those chemistry blues with clear advice

24th March 2000 at 00:00
NEW HIGHER CHEMISTRY. By Eric Allan and John Harris. Hodder and Stoughton, pound;12.99.

STANDARD GRADE CHEMISTRY FLASHCARDS. Ockendon Publishing, pound;7.95.

Recent major changes in the Higher Chemistry syllabus left a lot of teachers with a major headache on how to deliver a new and updated curriculum. Hodder and Stoughton's New Higher Chemistry textbook is a comprehensive guide to the new course and will help not only the pupils but also teachers who graduated before 1970.

Of particular interest will be the chapter on recent developments in polymer chemistry. A considerable part of Unit 3 is given over to the chemical industry, and manufacturing pathways from raw materials to final product are clearly outlined. The text reflects the course structure outlined in the arrangements for Chemistry last May.

The difficulty with the new Higher is that each of the three units has sub-topics which cover very large areas of the syllabus. This textbook is well organised, dividing the course into manageable chunks. At the start of each chapter there is a list of required previous knowledge from both Standard grade and Intermediate 2 courses, which means that pupils are clear as to what they should know before attempting a new chapter.

All the chapters contain questions relating to the text. The study questions at the end of each chapter which relate to the topic as a whole are of Higher past paper standard and will give pupils an ideaof the sort of questions they will be asked to attempt in their final exam. Answers are at the end of the book.

Appropriate experiments with clearly illustrated diagrams are frequently referred to in the text and are a good memory aid for pupils when revising for end-of-topic tests. The three prescribed practical activities, on which pupils may be questioned in their exam, are highlighted.

This book will be invaluable to both teacher and pupil.

The Standard Grade Chemistry Flashcards from Ockendon are an innovative way of revising basic information. They are divided into 15 topics, as outlined by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and contain words or phrases with which students should be familiar for success at Standard grade. On the back of each card is information which students are expected to learn.

The pack comes with a guide on how best to use them, either as an individual study aid or working collaboratively in pairs.

The basic idea is good, but some of the cards contain either inaccurate chemical information or that which is required only beyond Standard grade. Nor do they cover all the learning outcomes for Standard grade chemistry, so they should be used with course notes as a study aid.

With a few revisions by Ockendon Publishing, these cards could be an innovative way of helping pupils to revise.

Elizabeth Fulton is principal teacher of chemistry at Renfrew High, Renfrewshire

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