Science Matters for Lower Secondary Express/Normal (Academic)

Authors: Joan Fong, Lam Oeng Kwan, Eric Lam, Christine Lee, Loo Poh Lim
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish education
Example of ISBN: 978-1-920293-80-2
Reviewed by: Heather Blanckensee, Principal and Natural Sciences Teacher, Sacred Heart College High school

Science Matters for Lower Secondary Express consists of two textbooks (Volume A and Volume B), and corresponding two workbooks and two practical books. It forms part of the Singapore Science Series and, while specifically designed for use within the Singapore education system, it presents a fairly comprehensive coverage of most concepts covered in the present South African Grades 7, 8 and 9 Natural Sciences curriculum.

As such, it is most suitable for use in schools that have a junior high or middle school that allows for the implementation of a twoto three-year Science programme. The textbooks are visually engaging, with colourful and up-to-date pictures. There are four themes or units in the first textbook – namely Science and Technology, Measurement, Diversity and Interactions.

The second textbook of Science Matters (Volume B) has two units: Energy and Models and Systems. Every chapter within each unit has learning outcomes as a starting point, and a chapter opener that has a relevant example which stimulates learners’ interest in the topic. Each double page offers a multimodal approach to learning, with
content information that links to exercises in the workbook, or a practical activity as outlined in the practical book. There are interrogative questions that lend themselves to research, debates, critical thinking development and exploration of ethical issues.

The ‘Surf it’ option provides a link in to related content on the Internet, while ‘Super scientist’ and ‘CSI’ (Cool Science Investigation) add fun dimensions to learning. Each chapter has a summary in the form of a concept map, and a series of different types of questions that reinforce concepts. The textbooks – despite some references to specific issues or examples in Singapore – can be used in a South African context, providing the teacher is able to find suitable local examples.

However, there are a number of international references that allow the books to translate well into the Grades 7 to 9 Science classroom. The workbook focuses specifically on reinforcing the core knowledge of concepts learnt. Each worksheet has two different levels of questions. The questions in the workbook function primarily at a recall and comprehension level. However, the ‘Challenge yourself ’ questions – with an allocated time limit – allow for thinking at a higher order level. There is also a
graphic organiser, which helps learners to learn how to summarise. The worksheets are perforated and can be removed from the workbook and handed in for assessment,
which allows learners to continue to work in the workbooks while their work is being assessed.

The practical book provides learners with an opportunity to develop basic process skills. All of the experiments are designed simply, but do rely on basic equipment that would be found in a wellresourced school laboratory. The experiment or activity worksheet has been designed with clear aims, skills being learnt, apparatus and materials in mind, as well as procedure and observations. The learners can fill in their answers on the detachable worksheets and can hand this in for assessment. This provides a definite structure to the experiment, but does not encourage further experimentation or design of new experiments. The teacher’s edition of both workbooks and practical books are available. This provides guidelines for time allocated per task and answer per question.

The textbooks are very cost-effective given the stunning use of colour and graphics, and would certainly engage all learners in some way or another.

Filed Under: Autumn 2011Book Reviews

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