Basic Science & Technology
(BS&T) is a free modular textbook for junior secondary or middle school students in tropical and sub-tropical countries. It is written in good, simple English and is suitable for students for whom English is a second language. BS&T covers the needs of most junior secondary or middle school courses in basic, combined, or integrated science and technology. Each chapter comprises a sequence of one-page modules (sub-topics) that can be used alone or in sequence. All modules can be downloaded and printed from this website, individually or as chapters. They are completely free for students, and for teachers who wish to use them with their classes. The book is based on research into basic science curricula worldwide and on the author's personal experience of science education in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, as well as Britain and Australia, over a period of more than 40 years. (Please note that these materials are copyright and may not be downloaded and sold for profit. They are intended to be free for everyone!)
The book is intended to support and complement national Science and Technology programs at Junior Secondary or Middle School level in tropical and sub-tropical countries, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. More specifically, the book aims:
- to stimulate interest in science and technology.
- to provide basic science and technology information that:
- - is normally included in programs at this level,
- - is necessary for carrying out, understanding and interpreting the kind of practical science activities commonly prescribed in such programs,
- - is needed by students revising for Junior Secondary or Middle School Examinations, and
- - provides a sound foundation for the study of science at the next level.
- to relate science and technology to everyday life by referring to appropriate local and worldwide examples.
- to highlight the nature of science and technology, and some of their important social implications, especially in developing countries.
- to provide opportunities for, and encourage, pupils to think about and use scientific and technological ideas and processes.
- to make realistic assumptions about the teaching and learning resources likely to be available.
Selection of topics:
Topics were selected after studying the detailed programs being followed in a number of countries, and consulting the results of the UNESCO School Science Curriculum Analysis (which covers 66 countries at the lower secondary level). The book sets out to cover:
- basic science topics common to lower secondary or middle school science courses worldwide.
- science processes and the nature of scientific enquiry.
- the application of science through technology, including important and familiar technological examples.
- the social implications of science and technology.
List of contents:
There are 18 chapters covering the topics listed below. In a four year middle school or junior secondary program, it is recommended that Chapters 1 - 5 would be suitable for the first year, Chapters 6 - 10 for the second year, Chapters 11 - 14 for the third year, and Chapters 15 - 18 for the fourth year. Comprehensive lists of the modules comprising each chapter will be found on the download page (click here).
- Science and technology
- Living things
- Electricity and magnetism
- Reproduction and life cycles
- Heat, light and sound
- Blood and sap
- Atoms, elements and compounds
- Forces and simple machines
- Earth science
- The human body
- Atoms and chemistry
- Nutrition, health and disease
- Force, energy and power in action
- Science, technology and ourselves
The approach adopted has been guided by best modern practice and by the findings of recent research in science education. The text is gender neutral, and prominence has been given to ideas, examples and illustrations that are relevant to students in the target countries, and that are likely to appeal to girls as well as boys. The sequencing and organisation of topics has been planned to take advantage of what is known about how learning takes place at this level. In particular it is designed to help students to construct systematic and well-integrated 'cognitive networks' of the kind that characterise understanding rather than memorisation. Special attention has been given to relating each topic to what students are likely to know already, and to addressing and correcting common misunderstandings. Conceptually demanding ideas, such as those relating to energy and particles, are built up gradually using appropriate concrete models in the early stages. The book is intended to support and complement national activity-based programmes and, in order to reflect the practical nature of the subject, reference is frequently made in the early modules to simple activities that are common to many programs at this level - especially activities that students can safely do themselves with simple materials and a minimum of supervision.
Level of coverage:
This is intended to be a comprehensive
introduction to science and technology, so the breadth of coverage is slightly greater than has been customary in some introductory texts. To meet the needs of students revising for junior secondary or middle school examinations, the approach is also a little more formal and each module provides a concise summary of key facts and concepts. Finally, to meet the needs of students for whom this may be a terminal course, particular attention has been given to socially significant issues, and to topics of every-day importance including health and ecology. Overall, the book sets out to support, at the junior secondary or middle school level, the principal aim of UNESCO's Project 2000+, namely the promotion of scientific and technological literacy for all.
For many of the students using the book, English may be a second (or third) language. The author is aware of the needs of such students and, in addition to meeting normal reading-level tests (Table 1 below), special attention has been paid to avoiding problems identified by research in this area. The use of the passive voice, the conditional tense, phrasal verbs, pronouns which refer back more than one sentence, and "logical connectives", have been kept to a minimum. Unduly complex sentence structure has been avoided and an informal (but matter-of-fact) tone has been adopted.
Table 1 - Summary of Readability Data for Basic Science & Technology
* Mean Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (USA)
|Chapter||No. of words||Ave. words/sentence||Ave. word length||% passive||Grade level*|
The layout includes the following features:
- a modular format, organised under 18 chapter headings. Each chapter covers a major topic and is divided into between 9 and 18 modules. Each module deals with a single sub-topic and normally covers one A4 page. A few modules need two pages. The modular format is intended to facilitate the addition, removal or revision of sub-topics to meet the requirements of different curricula. (The author will be pleased to add or revise modules where a significant need is identified).
- a lively, attractive layout with as many illustrations as practicable.
- short questions at the end of almost every module. These are designed to encourage students to interact with the text and to think about what they are reading. They are an integral part of the book and are designed to help students understand what they read, and sometimes to prepare the way for later topics. Answers (and brief explanations) are included in the Teachers' Guide.
- a comprehensive glossary and a detailed index are available.
Materials for teachers:
A detailed syllabus is available with listings of topics and associated objectives to be achieved by students. Because the materials are intended for use in a wide range of circumstances, the objectives are not narrowly behavioural but are stated at a relatively broad and inclusive level. There is also a short Teachers' Guide that includes concept maps for each chapter, and notes on 'aims, activities and answers' for each module.
Standardised tests for each chapter are planned at a later stage if there is a demand.
David Slimming has a PhD in science education and has wide experience of all aspects of science education in the field. After 10 years teaching science in high schools in Britain and Africa, he joined the British Council as a Science Education Adviser. In this capacity he worked in a number of developing countries for a further 21 years before taking up private consultancy in 1992. Dr Slimming has extensive experience in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. In addition to classroom teaching, he has participated in curriculum and materials development, pre-service teacher training, in-service teacher education and support, assessment and evaluation (including examinations work), and the management and administration of education projects. He is now semi-retired and lives in Australia.
Constructive feedback will always be welcome. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions about the Basic Science & Technology website, or the modules, I would be pleased to hear from you. You can use the 'Contact David' link on this page or the 'Contact Author' links on the download page. Feedback in the opposite direction - from the author for users of BS&T - is provided through the author's 'News Blog' which is accessible from the home and download pages.