26th May 2008 at 01:00

CHEMISTRY PROVIDES THE SOLUTION: curriculum resource pack. By the Laboratory of the Government Chemist. pound;10 from Garth Buckle, Hounslow Business Education Partnership, SB House, Great West Rd, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 9BD. Tel: 020 8975 3894. Fax: 020 8975 4405. E-mail

GUIDE TO IMPROVING ANALYTICAL QUALITY IN CHEMISTRY. Pack includes basic laboratory skills CD-Rom. pound;15 from Allen Brown, LGC, Queen's Rd, Teddington, TW11 0LY. Tel: 020 8943 7570. Fax: 020 8943 7554. E-mail

Are our athletes really taking performance-enhancing drugs? Did our neighbour die of natural causes or was foul play involved? These questions make newspaper headlines, but in many cases can be answered only by analytical scientists.

Chemistry Provides the Solution was assembled by a team of enthusiasts, including teachers from Hounslow schools and LGC staff. Produced for post-16 students studying for GNVQ advanced science or A-level, it injects the excitement and relevance of real-life situations into a potentially dry area of the curriculum.

The material consists of six analytical problems. To help students with their solutions there are five information packs covering analytical techniques, sampling, extraction techniques, instruental analysis and uncertainty in measurement. There is also help for the teacher with background to the problems and links with the syllabus. Six staff profiles are included to help with careers advice.

Most of the materials will be available in schools, and where there are special requirements, the names and addresses of suppliers are provided. Students will find this a useful starting point for individual practical assignments, but the design of the material lacks flair. Teachers may like to create their own format, including diagrams and pictures.

The Guide to Improving Analytical Quality in Chemistry is aimed at post-16 students, laboratory technicians and first-year undergraduates, and is an excellent resource for anyone charged with passing on analytical chemistry skills to others.

Chemistry teachers and practising analysts could learn from this publication, gaining tips and reminders from masters of the craft. The basic techniques covered include performing a titration, using a spectrophotometer and calculating and reporting an analytical result.

The CD-Rom goes through the basic techniques needed to perform a titration, giving step-by-step instructions, and has a general introduction to the laboratory.

Hugh Rippin

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