Mike Shipton reviews this study guide for GSCE additional science

Twenty first century science: GCSE additional science
University of York Science Education Group and Nuffield Curriculum Centre
Oxford: OUP 2006 | Pp271 | £17.00 | ISBN 0 199 15044 3

Cover of Twenty first century science: GCSE additional science

The Twenty first century science courses represent the most significant developments in the school science curriculum since the advent of Nuffield courses in the 1960s. Twenty first century science: GCSE additional science adopts the new approach with flair and gusto. This book is written for students and covers nine modules; three in each of biology, chemistry and physics. Science explanations are developed to the point where students have sufficient grounding to take up advanced courses beyond GCSE.  

Instead of repackaging and recycling existing material the authors have taken an entirely fresh approach in their presentation. They have tackled awkward conceptual material head on, eg bonding in chemistry, fields in physics and protein synthesis in biology. The structure, style and vocabulary, however, show an unusual degree of sensitivity toward the student reader. There is an emphasis on encouraging the reader to understand science by picturing the behaviour of the relevant particles involved.  

Each module is divided into subsections, which avoid the straitjacket of the one double-page spread per section format. The style is informal and engaging without being sloppy. Technical vocabulary is introduced gradually and with the first use of each new term emboldened. There is a careful balance between text and graphics. Photographs are used liberally to enliven the page but are relatively small and do not intrude or disrupt the flow of text. 

Major curriculum developments always attract controversy and Twenty first century science is no exception. At a glance it is easy to identify the reduction in content of those items, such as chemical formulae equations, that have traditionally made the subject look difficult. Only a thorough read will give you the pleasure of following the careful and finely-tuned explanations of demanding concepts. Like it or loathe it, the new GCSE science curriculum is here to stay. If you are teaching the OCR additional science course, this book is a must have. If not, buy a copy anyway and see what all the fuss is about. It is well worth it.