Positive reactions

19th May 1995 at 01:00
UNIVERSITY OF BATH SCIENCE 16-19 CHEMISTRY. By Kenn Gadd and Steve Gurr. Nelson Pounds 21.99. 0 17 448236 1. Age range 16 - 19

This latest addition to the Bath Science 16-19 Project is a major new resource for A level chemistry and will come as good news to those trying to revive enthusiasm in students weighed down by the demands of the subject at advanced level.

Chemistry is an attractive, thoroughly modern textbook, thoughtfully presented with an imaginative use of colour. The style is interesting and clear; there are learning objectives at the start of each chapter; and the in-text questions help to focus the student on the material. The readily accessible answers and highlighted "key facts" help readers to grow in understanding and confidence as they progress.

The range of A level core material is well covered in six broad themes. However, there are areas where depth seems to have been sacrificed for ease of understanding and clarity of explanation. A database is included which contains first-class summaries of useful information. Many of the developments in chemistry which appear in the latest examination syllabuses such as buckminsterfullerenes, catalytic converters and environmental issues are featured and the "Chemistry of the Body" chapter brings together areas of organic chemistry in an elegant and fascinating way. Students of A level biology will also benefit from selected sections of this book.

One aim of the Bath Project is to encourage independent learning through highly interactive texts and, in the main, the authors, Kenn Gadd and Steve Gurr, have achieved this. Chemistry is certainly more a study book than a reference text. The "tutorial boxes", which look at worked solutions to problems, are displayed step-by-step and give students the tools and confidence to tackle the most daunting examination questions. A possible quibble is the sparseness of the index. Omissions here are accentuated by the unconventional lay-out of the book. Admittedly "connections" which are printed in the margin help the reader to link different sections of the subject matter but on occasions it is difficult to locate specific facts even though the information is there.

Beyond the A level core, the authors have been forced to be selective in what they have covered. While there is an excellent chapter on chemical analysis and structure, there is no reference to entropy at all. This is a superb new resource, but care needs to be taken in matching its content to a particular examination syllabus.

Hugh Rippin is head of chemistry at Chenderit High School, Banbury.

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