Steps to the stars;Primary;Reviews;Science;Books

8th May 1998 at 01:00
STAR SCIENCE. Upper Junior Theme Packs on Forces and Plant Life. Ginn - pound;32.85 for each theme pack. Plus teacher's guide - pound;8.95

Star Science's final instalment covers all aspects of the science national curriculum for upper juniors. Building on material for lower key stage 2 (TES May 9 , 1997) and key stage 1 (TES September 20, 1996), it consists of 10 themes, each with a teacher's guide and packs of attractive pupil books. These are full of activities and supported by photocopiable work sheets. The challenging content is appropriate to the age and interests of the pupils.

The skills ladder aims to ensure progressive development. This is a valuable feature, although it is a restriction, demanding schools follow the themes in the order suggested.

The other strand of progression is based on "concept chains". For example, "Forces can change the speed of things" is followed by "Friction is a force which slows things down", then "If something does not move, balanced forces are acting on it". The chains are presented simply and clearly, with links between lower and upper junior materials.

At the start of each topic, opportunities for revision of ideas are suggested. These also aim to let the teacher find out what the children know and understand. But little guidance is given as to how to go with the flow of ideas while ensuring coverage of the material.

The top end of key stage 2 presents many teachers with a challenge to their own knowledge. Star Science provides support and useful activities.

Without a firm grasp of science it is difficult to know what to look for in assessing children's skills and knowledge and how to ensure differentiation. Little guidance is given. Teachers who are less confident will still have to do their own research. But this has always been the case and means we can bring our own experience to primary science.

Anne Qualter

* Anne Qualter is a lecturer in science education at Liverpool University

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