Making science relevant;Primary;Reviews;Environment;Books

25th June 1999 at 01:00
I CAN HELP SERIES: Recycle Rubbish pound;8.99. Save Water pound;8.99. Clean Our Air pound;9.99. Protect Nature pound;9.99. Weather Watch pound;9.99. Save Energy pound;8.99. By Viv Smith. Watts

Environmental education in schools is enjoying another revival. When early stages in national curriculum prescription threatened to squeeze out rafts of exciting learning experiences, likefield work and conservation, environmentalists were in despair. Now words suchas biodiversity and sustainability appear in government guidelines and hopes rise again.

These books are very much what is needed by primary teachers, combining colourful and arresting presentation with fascinating facts and practical activities. Photographs ofpupils investigating their surroundings, trying experiments and demonstrating scientific principles willtempt young readers tobecome involved.

Some serious issues are dealt with, but optimism is the key message. The author recognises that children need to be guided carefully through topics suchas resource depletion, waste crises, global warming andair pollution in a less stressful manner than is sometimesthe case.

It is a pity that the needto simplify often complex scientific processes has ledto misleading or false information. For example, water vapour does not contain drops of water, although clouds do; insects and birds are animals; and melting ice cubes in a tank do not raise the water level, because displacement has already occurred. Only ice melting on land will raise sea level.

Pupils need to be aware of these inaccuracies. And they should know they have to wear gloves to pick up litter in their playgrounds.

But these criticisms should not deter schools from acquiring this series.

Copies in classroom libraries will add much to the attractiveness of science to young people, giving them the correct impression that science has relevance to their daily lives and includes creative and enjoyable activities.

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