Advanced search

Serious about science - What to read (starting A levels)

(18 Posts)
Chillywhippet Sat 22-Aug-15 07:35:34

I want to get DD2 who loves reading some books. So far Steven Hawking's a Brief History of Time has come to mind.

What would you suggest that fills in around the subjects?

Also any suggestions for resources for science A levels generally?

We know that the step up from science GCSE to A levels is massive. DD1 did biology and chemistry ASs and remembers these quotes from first lessons:

Biology - "OK everyone. Draw a plant cell and an animal cell. Done? Well you can forget that..."

Chemistry - "If you did well at GCSE by working hard but not really understanding, that just not going to work at A level."

Fishlegs Sat 22-Aug-15 07:57:02

Not sure about books, but I read New Scientist weekly whilst doing those Alevels. I still buy it occasionally now, it has a good range of topics and is quite interesting. It was recommended by my biology teacher.

kelda Sat 22-Aug-15 08:01:02

Agree, a subscription to New Scientist is a good idea.

Puffinella Sat 22-Aug-15 08:05:22

I agree, a subscription to New Scientist sound good. At that age I enjoyed Simon Singh's books - Fermat's Last Theorem and The Code Book. Also Longitude by Dava Sobel.

Stephen Hawking's book is very hard to read, so just be careful you don't scare her with it! Worth having a stab at, though! There's a good book by Brian Greene which explains a lot of new Physics pretty well - I'm afraid I can't remember the name, but it was published in about 2000.

If she's into biology then the classic is Darwin; some of Richard Dawkins earlier stuff is OK (before he went all anti-religion and made every book about that).

BikeRunSki Sat 22-Aug-15 08:07:37

If studying Physics, I'd recommend The New Science of Strong Materials, or Why You Don't Fall Through the Floor and Structures or Why Things Don't Fall Down, both by JE Gordon. I read them at the start of my Science A levels.

Also E = mc2, the Biography of the Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis.

BikeRunSki Sat 22-Aug-15 08:10:26

If studying Geology Simon Winchester's The Map That Changed The World is good.

There's a really good Environmental science one too, but I cAn't remember what it's called. But the film of Erin Brocovitch gives good for thought.

GrizzlebertGrumbledink Sat 22-Aug-15 08:18:19

During my a levels i enjoyed popular science books like genome by Matt Ridley and some of the Dawkins books. I'd also recommend bad science by Ben Goldacre. The periodic table by Primo Levi is good too.

Hubby recommends Smashing Physics, he says a brief history of time is fascinating but he felt like it's written in a language you don't quite have a proper grasp of. Lots of people love Bill Bryson too

LaVolcan Sat 22-Aug-15 11:27:24

If she has a mathsy bent she could look at books by Ian Stewart.

EllenJanethickerknickers Sat 22-Aug-15 13:42:22

There's "A Briefer History of Time" which might be a good start.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sat 22-Aug-15 13:53:17

God, I tried reading A Brief History of Time when I was in my 30s and couldn't get past the first few chapters blush - it's not easy reading!

A very interesting book that I generally like to recommend is called Alternative Science, by Richard Milton - it gives the "other side", if you like, to show that science can be just as hidebound in its thinking as any other field. The early examples of important people refusing to believe in discoveries are fascinating!

It's also very easy to read. Read the reviews on the link - they say it better than I can.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sat 22-Aug-15 13:53:50

Oh and I also suggest New Scientist, and possibly Nature as well.

IamtheDevilsAvocado Sat 22-Aug-15 14:01:10

New scientist
Any ben goldacre books particularly Bad Science
For cognitive science - Anything by Stephen pinker -

unlucky83 Sat 22-Aug-15 14:03:32

I haven't read his books but Steve Jones (geneticist) is an entertaining speaker...good at presenting information in an easy to understand way.
(Although I had him as a genetics lecturer years ago - talking about studying human genetic inheritance and said 'of course as well there is always the 'milkman effect' - we all wrote it down religiously - is that one 'l' or 2? waiting to find out in more detail who 'Milkman' was and what other research they had done until the penny dropped blush)
Also Ben Goldacre is good for encouraging critical thinking - important as a research scientist - but not sure that will be appreciated for A levels.
(I was told that people who got 1sts in science degrees were often not the best research scientists - just very good at saying what was expected not as good at critical thought - looking for problems. Actually never asked what class of degree the person who said that had hmm but they had known a lot of post degree students ... )

cdtaylornats Sat 22-Aug-15 15:50:14

The BBC Focus magazine is good, slightly less technical than New Scientist.

Chillywhippet Sat 22-Aug-15 17:27:33

Aw thank you everyone.
MN at its best!
We started with New Scientist from town today - "very interesting"

I'll have a look at the all books suggested but will definitely hold off a Brief History for a bit.

welshpixie Sat 22-Aug-15 18:45:24

Seven elements that changed the world by John Browne is a good read. Also if she is into chemistry then have a look at the Royal Society of Chemistry website they have a lot for A'level students.

EllenJanethickerknickers Sat 22-Aug-15 19:07:45

No, this one. A Briefer History of Time. Simplified, but still by Stephen Hawking. Amazon

CMOTDibbler Sat 22-Aug-15 19:15:07

I think the biggest thing is reading New Scientist or Scientific American regularly as she'll get exposed to so many different applications of science, and reading the job adverts makes you think about the different career options. I still remember very clearly the NS article which started me on the career path I took.

Personally, I love reading sciencey books on a wide variety of subjects, but I think that at that age its more important to read very thinly and widely.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now