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Review of ‘Chemical change’ by Lee Whisson published by Unit Science Publishers in 1989
The book appears to be a revised version of a book I am familiar with which was published overseas (UK) in 1953. Chemical change, however, has an attractive cover and large clear print. Its 72 pages are divided into four sections covering fifteen topics including atoms, metals and non-metals, bonding, the periodic table, aspects of writing formulae and balancing equations, various classes of chemical reaction, Avogadro's number, atomic and molecular weight and the kinetic theory of gases. There are no pictures of real people, but a number of cartoon figures are included to 'jolly' the book along. These are balanced in respect to gender, but unrelated to the text. In particular I did not like two pin type figures which appeared to push layers of metal atoms over each other. There were some black and white photographs but no use of colour. One of these black and white photos was said to illustrate 'brightly coloured flowers such as these red geraniums'.
I thought the use of language was awkward in places, for example on page 2, it said 'The way atoms react with each other is called their chemical properties'. On the same page, Figure 1.1 has only six protons illustrated for an oxygen atom and on page 11, Table 3.1 has 'one atoms'. Figure 4.1 (a periodic table) asks the reader to 'see below' for the transuranic elements but they are not included in the table at all. In addition obsolescent terms such as atomic weight and molecular weight are used.
The above comments perhaps merely show minor flaws and careless editing, but there is some doubt in my mind as to the overall use to which the book could be put in an Australian context. The emphasis on numerical questions in the later chapter might allow its use for remedial work in Year 11, or for extension work in Years 9 or 10, but there are better books around. Regretfully I am unable to recommend the purchase of this book.
Originally reviewed in The Australian Science Teachers Journal, March 1990, 36(1), pp. 85-86.
Chemical change : unit curriculum : teacher support material. Unit 8353/Lee Whisson; Western Australia. Distance Education Centre.; Western Australia. Ministry of Education. Curriculum Directorate.; [Perth, W.A.] : Curriculum Directorate, Ministry of Education, 1990.