Probing wonders of science

  • Education
  • Sunday, 23 Feb 2003

Review by Hariati Azizan

YOUNG SCIENTISTS,MAD MATHS, CRUNCH and SCI TEC Publisher: Institute of Physics, United Kingdom 

IT’S common knowledge. A strong science education is becoming increasingly important to children's success in their present as well as future endeavours.  

Nurturing young scientists and mathematicians is easier said than done though. And with the switch to English for those subjects in schools, the task may be a little more complicated for some parents and teachers. 

The language factor aside, it is the quality of content in science textbooks that holds the key to unlocking students' potential in the two branches of science studies. 

It is widely acknowledged that tapping into children's curiosity will teach them to appreciate the wonders of science and instil in them a lifetime interest in the subjects. Four British magazines – Young Scientists, Mad Maths, Crunch and Sci Tec – do just that.  

Published by the Institute of Physics in Britain, these magazines have just been launched in Malaysia and are targeted at children aged from seven to 14. This makes them ideal complementary reading material for Year One pupils and lower secondary students (Form One to Form Three). 

Unlike the readymade, fact-heavy textbooks used in schools, these magazines present information in an innovative and interactive way. This is in line with worldwide trends that signal a movement towards discovery- or inquiry-based learning in science education, and the publications arouse students' interest by firing their curiosity in the world around them. Thus, covering a wide range of topics in depth, the educational magazines relate findings to ordinary life in a changing world. 

Written by renowned science “personalities”, including award winning television science and documentary show host David Bellamy, Horrible Science author Nick Arnold, Murderous Maths author Kjartan Poskitt and “wacky teacher” Johnny Ball, each article carries their distinctive styles which appeals to learners. 

As award-winning children’s science author, Seymour Simon (Scholastic magazines, Seemore Readers) once said, good science writing is the same as good novels – it has to be stimulating with plot twists here and there, while opening up a whole new world to readers. 

Of course, unlike fiction, he added, the information in science books has to be true and accurate. And writing style must be clear and interesting, arousing further interest in the topic. According to Simon, if it merely answers questions and closes down any further investigation or questions, then it is a bad science book.  

These magazines fulfil all the criteria of good science writing as mentioned above. The language is kept simple and interesting, and the information is scientifically accurate, providing teachers and students with the right kinds of help in understanding and applying important concepts. 

Students can effectively acquire the knowledge and skills they need for advanced learning in higher education or in the workplace by reading these magazines, and the fun way in which they are written will only motivate them to learn more. 

Mad Maths and Crunch are mathematical magazines that link mathematical theories to ordinary things in everyday life. Targeted at seven- to 10 year-olds and 11- to14-year-olds respectively, they shed new light on Mathematics, making 

the boring not only bearable but also fascinating. As their motto states, Maths is in everything around us, and with a little knowledge of Maths, everything around us will make sense – from the number of days in a month to the number of fingers on one hand.  

It is no mystery that many students find mathematical concepts difficult, as they can’t see their relevance in their lives. The articles in this magazine attempt to change all that by proving how numbers play an important part in our lives.  

For instance, one edition shows how trigonometry is all around us (and this is not the shapes you find in pre-school Arithmetic!). Each magazine also comes with various activities to give students some practice while challenging them with quizzes and puzzles.  

Similarly, the science magazines Young Scientist and Sci Tec aim to make science fun and relevant to students in primary school and lower secondary respectively. 

It is amazing how the fundamentals of science and physics can be enjoyable when presented in a colourful and humorous way.  

While covering all aspects of science from physics to chemistry and biology, the magazines include new knowledge such as biotechnology and ICT. Like a book from the Dummy series, this science for (young) dummies is made simple by relating scientific phenomena to real life.  

Best of all, they come with simple experiment guides and ideas for students to try out at home and make their own discoveries, like real scientists.  

The only drawback (arguably) is that the topics covered are varied and not based on the local curriculum but, rather, on the British school curriculum. But one cannot have too much knowledge, and the wide range of topics will certainly enhance students’ scientific knowledge.  

And as proven by educationists, learning can only be effective if it is meaningful for the learners. With these magazines, Science and Mathematics are made easy, fun and relevant to everyday life. No nagging will be needed to encourage students to read these educational magazines, and reading them regularly will help them build a sound foundation in Science and Mathematics.  

For more information about the magazines, visit or call Kidzmag Sdn Bhd at 03-2274 9531. 

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