Ben Faust reviews this text aimed at teachers, technicians and pupils

Twenty first century science: GCSE chemistry
University of York Science Education Group and Nuffield Curriculum Centre
Oxford: OUP 2006 | Pp272 | £17.00 | ISBN 0 199 15050 8

Cover of Chemistry for 21st century

This is one of a range of textbooks, workbooks and CD-ROMs aimed at teachers, technicians, and pupils that are designed to cover a new suite of specifications developed by the Nuffield Curriculum Centre and the University of York Science Education Group in partnership with OCR and Oxford University Press. The book is an attractive paperback in full colour, with plenty of colourful photographs and diagrams. The text density on the pages is not high, and almost every page is broken up with colour illustrations. There is also a useful glossary. 

There are seven modules, with a variety of topics and issues covered within each. At the start of each module a double-page introduction covering the ideas to be met aims to stimulate pupils' interest. At the end of each module is a summary; some modules also have additional questions.  

I was impressed by the emphasis on pupils' interaction with the world, particularly in the early material, eg concentrating on the way issues affect the pupils rather than global issues, such as how emissions from the combustion of fuels might affect their health, rather than less personal matters such as global warming. The early topics should engage the pupils well, but as the course unfolds the conceptual demands made on pupils increase. In the early units this is modest, but increases as the modules develop so that by the end pupils are encouraged to follow scientific method, write balanced equations and perform chemical calculations.  

However, teachers teaching this OCR course cannot rely on the book alone because several issues are met and queried without the explanations that teachers need to give. For example, some complex structures directly follow the introduction of ideas of bonding, and mole calculations are set with little explanation and few examples of mole calculations.