Peter Hughes reviews this GCSE companion text
Longman Science For AQA: GCSE Extension Science
Nigel English (ed)
Harlow: Pearson 2007 | Pp216 | £18.99; £625.00 + VAT; £99.00 + VAT; £99.00 + VAT | ISBN 1 405 85563 0
Used in conjunction with the related materials for AQA GCSEs in Science and Additional Science, this suite of resources provides the extension units in biology, chemistry and physics required by students who want to study for GCSEs in the separate sciences.
The student's book and accompanying ActiveBook CD-ROM, which offers a digital interactive version of the text, is something of a curate's egg. Impressive elements include some of the images, particularly in the chemistry section, and the boxes which describe what students should be able to do by the end of the topic (these are useful for identifying learning outcomes and tracking student progress). I also liked the obvious links between science and everyday life, and the way that questions referred to photographs of everyday events.
However, I found the layout somewhat inconsistent - some pages were packed full of content, whereas others had large amounts of empty space. I also found some diagrams difficult to follow, while the lack of detail in others made their inclusion questionable. Likewise the photographs. Why include pictures of reagent bottles and other common apparatus, why not concentrate on producing more of the impressive images such as the Eagle Nebula - one of the places where new stars are forming?
The ActiveTeach CD-ROM provides an electronic version of the student book for use with a projector or whiteboard, and much more. With integral PowerPoint presentations, animations and video clips, this is a comprehensive teaching tool. I liked the way that the application of science is continued through the video clips, but was disappointed when these stopped short of being more impressive. For example it is encouraging to see the flame-test pages enhanced by a video clip on how fireworks are produced, but frustrating that we do not get to see the fireworks 'exploding' to produce their array of colours. I was also disappointed that some of the more dangerous reactions, such as caesium reacting with water, are not included in the library of clips (though there is a very impressive photograph).
The copymaster file CD-ROM provides a comprehensive set of worksheets to ensure that the complete package provides for all the needs of the science department, including homework or cover material. Although comparable in cost to other similar resources, I do not believe that it is worth buying any of these materials separately because they are so closely linked. A department would need to commit to the whole package to benefit from the investment.