Life's cycles in full colour;Secondary;Reviews;Science;Books

10th September 1999 at 01:00
COMPLETE GCSE BIOLOGY. By Morton Jenkins. Hodder amp; Stoughton. pound;12.50.

Complete GCSE Biology is an exciting book to look at: full colour with a good mix of text, photographs, line drawings and diagrams which complement each other. A good example is the chapter on "Chromosomes and Cell Division", where there is a superb match between five excellent photomicrographs of mitosis and diagrams of the same.

There's one minor quibble: the five "phases" of division are included in the photo caption, but not labelled inthe diagrams or mentioned in the text.

Fifteen chapters are organised into three themes - "Life Processes", "Continuity of Life" and "Organisms and their Environment". Each chapter begins with a list of learning objectives, with colour-coded bullet points: pink for the biology of single and double-award science and blue for treble.

The same applies to the text, where coloured lines reveal the syllabus link. Here there's another problem with detail: the only blue sections are in the first theme,"the variety of feeding methods in animals" and "limb structure". None appears in the other two. Surely this can't be right.

There are some interesting twists in the practical investigations. For example, students are shown how to collect and measure the gas from a photosynthesising pond weed using two syringes and a three-way tap rather than the usual inverted test tube.

A novel feature is the use of information and commu-nications technology. However, minimal instructions meanthat teachers will need to be competent in the use of a number of different and expensive sensors. In some parts, trying to get ICT intoan activity has proved difficult and the author resorts to a "use a CD-Rom to find out..." strategy. Almost as bad as"find a book on..."!

Some chapters have snippets of useful information in "Did you know?" boxes and each chapter ends with a summary and useful homework and "in-depth" questions.

At the end of each theme there are exam board questions and the author provides his own answers at the back ofthe book.

This is a curate's egg of a book: outstandingly good in many parts but slipshod in others.

Jackie Hardie is deputy head (curriculum) at The Latymer School, Edmonton

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