Salters' advanced chemistry chemical storylines A2 (3rd edn)
Derek Denby, Chris Otter and Kay Stephenson
Harlow: Heinemann 2009 | Pp177 | £15.99 | ISBN 978 0 43 5631 148 2
Reviewed by John Dexter
Everyone loves a good story and chemists love a good chemical story - this is in part a reason for the success of the Salters' advanced chemistry course. So this collection of stories for the new A2 specification introduced in 2008 is a key resource for those teaching and learning the course.
There are eight stories, most of which will be familiar to teachers of previous Salters' specifications but a few titles and some of the content have been revamped. The authors have successfully managed to maintain good chemistry and historical interest while introducing some frontier, up-to-date materials.
Covered in 15-25 pages, each story starts with a brief note to students on why they are studying the topic, what chemistry they need to understand and what new chemistry they will be learning. Each story links to practical and other activities and also to the Chemical ideas textbook (highlighted in yellow boxes). The book is full of relevant photographs and illustrations which bring the stories to life. New words are written in bold and each story has a set of assignments (highlighted in grey boxes) that test students' chemical understanding and knowledge.
Interwoven into the storylines is the work and achievements of real chemists, such as Sir John Vane. This highlights the role of the chemist as problem solver, which helps students see our subject in its intellectual and practical glory. There is a comprehensive index and clear links to the Salters' advanced chemistry OCR specification so students should be able to follow the stories and the structure of their course.
A good example of the quality of the storylines is Colour by design, which takes students from the pigments and dyes of the ancient world, through porphyrin chemistry, chrome yellow and Van Gogh, to the restoration of Cima's altarpiece, before Perkin and the birth of synthetic dye manufacture. In this new edition we are brought up to date as the azo dyes evolve into reactive dyes, and modern print ink.
This resource provides accessible, interesting yet challenging work and will be essential for students studying the Salters' advanced chemistry OCR specification. The book will also be useful to teachers delivering other specifications who are looking to bring chemical principles to life.