Science Textbooks

A little background

As mentioned on the home page, most of my working life has included the writing of science textbooks, mainly for secondary school level but more recently also for primary level. The writing began, somewhat tentatively, in New Zealand, but then expanded considerable after I moved to Hong Kong. In more recent years, there has been no writing for Hong Kong. Instead, the work has been done with publishers in Singapore with books being produced not only for Singapore but also for countries in the region including Brunei, Mauritius, Indonesia and Thailand. Below is an outline of the textbook writing I have done.

Note: Not every book I have written, and which have been published, is included here. For example, there are some revision and examination-preparation books for Junior Secondary Science and for O-level Chemistry in Singapore that are not included.

Beginnings in New Zealand

While at Burnside High School in New Zealand, several of the Science teachers collaborated on a lower secondary book called "Science for Today". Book 1 came out in 1968, after I had left for Hong Kong. I don't think Book 2 ever came out! The book was not very good, written as it was by six people in six different styles. Still, it was a start and gave me a good introduction to the world of textbook writing.

Science for Today
Integrated Science

Integrated Science for Hong Kong, Book 1

The first Hong Kong books

When I arrived in Hong Kong, I was teaching science (along with other subjects)to Forms 1 and 2. (As the school was new, it had classes for just two years.) I was given the textbook that the students were using, but I did not like it. Instead, I prepared my own materials (in colour but using very primitive liquid copy machines). At the end of the year, a publisher - Heinemann Educational Books - visited the school to sell their books. When the Principal said we had produced our own, they invited me round to their offices for a chat. That is how it started. The first book was entitled "Integrated Science for Hong Kong". It came out in 1970, followed by Book 2 in 1971 and Book 3 in 1974.

Back to New Zealand

Heinemann Education Books also had an office in New Zealand and when they saw my Hong Kong books, adapted them for use in New Zealand under the tile "Take a Look at This", primarily for less academically able classes because of the simpler level of English. There were two books and they were sold to a few schools (just a few!). The two books in the series came out in 1971 and 1972.

Look at this
English edition

Book 1 of the English edition

Chinese edition

Book 3 of the Chinese edition

Science for the 70s for Hong Kong

By the mid-1970s, my Hong Kong science series was due for an overhaul. But this time, three of us worked together to adapt a Scottish science series called "Science for the 70s". The three books in the series came out in 1975, 1976 and 1977 respectively. As with my earlier books, these were produced with accompanying workbooks and teachers' guides. Chinese editions of the books also came out at the same time.

The first Chemistry books

At this time, another Hong Kong publisher, Macmillan, approached me to write Chemistry books for Forms 4 and 5 in Hong Kong. The result was "Chemistry: A new approach" which came out in 1978, by which time I was working at the Hong Kong Technical Teachers' College. Unfortunately the book did not do so well. Part of the reason was that a new syllabus was not ready so I had to guess some parts, but I guessed wrong. Then, when the syllabus did come out, another company (whose two authors were former students of mine at CUHK!) essentially copied my books but corrected the content where I was wrong. (I strongly encouraged Macmillan to sue them for copyright, but they would not do so.)

Chem ANA

The revised edition of my first Chemistry book


Science for the 80s, Book 1


The updated Chemistry book

Books in the 1980s

This decade mainly involved updating existing books rather than writing any new books. This was fortunate as I was very busy at work at the Chinese University then with my PhD work at Stanford and the dissertation work after returning to Hong Kong. "Science for the 70s" became "Science for the 80s" while the third edition of the Chemistry book above was published. This latter book was also modified slightly and used in Singapore (but only in schools with the highest ability students). (Years later, when visiting Singapore for books written for Singapore, a number of teachers approached me saying how much they liked my Chemistry book which they had used as students.)

Books in the 1990s

Back to solo writing (which I much prefer), a new lower secondary science series for Hong Kong came out in the early 90s - "Science for the 90s"; this was to be my last successful science series of books for Hong Kong (others were written but never published). This was followed in 1993 by a new Chemistry series called "Chem 2000".

Near the end of the decade, "Chem 2000" was revised and also produced in a Chinese edition.


Science for the 90s (for Hong Kong), Textbook 2


Chem 2000 Chinese edition, Book 1A (1999)


Book 3 of the Brunei lower secondary science series

The move to Singapore starts in earnest

In about 1997, Heinemann in Singapore asked me to write a series of lower secondary science books for Brunei. This got as far as Book 1 (published in 1998) but then the company closed down. The series was rescued by a local Singapore company and completed in 2000. While Book 1 was being written, in 1997, I visited Brunei to promote the series. Because Brunei is so small, the Brunei Ministry of Education used a tender system, rather than an open market, with interested publishers sending in sample chapters for review (including by school students!). The winning tender then got the whole market. Our tender won in part because of its very student-friendly language.

In the link "My Life (then the Later HK Years)" in the navigation bar, you can view some photos of my visit to Brunei.

The first books for Singapore - and Mauritius

The chief editor in the defunct Heinemann company was now with Longman publishers and he got me to produce a series of lower secondary (two years) science books for Singapore. The books were entitled "Science Discovery" and were published in 2001 and 2002; they captured a good portion of the local market.

Longman then got me to adapt these into three books for the Mauritius market. Books 1 to 3 books came out in 2002, 2003 and 2004 respectively. I had to finish Book 3 while I was in Los Angeles helping Gavin with his rehabilitation.


Science Discovery, Book 1 [Singapore version]


Discovering Science, Book 1 [Mauritius version]

Brunei  primary

The first primary school books

Because of the success of the lower secondary science books for Brunei, Longman asked me to write a three-book primary science series, for Primary 4 (when pupils switch to English as the medium of instruction) to Primary 6. Having never taught children this young, I was at first rather hesitant. However, I agreed and the result was "Go with Science". (Although I wrote books, I almost never chose the titles!)

The picture on the left shows the cover of the Primary 6 book.

The next - and last! - Chemistry books for Hong Kong

At the same time the first Brunei primary science book came out, so did the latest Hong Kong Chemistry book. This was "Chem Quest" (this title was my idea!), which was destined to be my last Hong Kong book. (The reason was that the original Macmillan company focussed on China and hived off its Hong Kong books to a local company that did not seem to be interested! At the same time, the original Macmillan company translated the book for a few schools in China, though I have never yet actually seen the book.

Chem Quest

Chemistry Insights [note the names of two authors]


The 'New' Science Discovery, Book 1

The mid-2000s - a busy period for Singapore

After retiring in 2000, I had more time to write books. About the middle of the decade, I was extremely busy doing two series of books for Singapore, one a new edition of the "Science Discovery" series and a Chemistry series for O-Level. This latter series was unexpected as the author of the then current series died suddenly so I was asked to take over (that is why the book have the names of two authors on them).

See below for a fuller description of "Chemistry Insights" and related books.

A primary series for Indonesia

The Indonesian government is tentatively introducing teaching in the medium of English. From 2009 to 2010, I wrote a series of primary science books for this scheme. The books covered four years from Primary 3 to Primary 6. To help in the writing, I visited Jakarta for a few days and while there taught several primary classes in four schools including an international school (private, I think), two local Islamic schools and a local (and secular!) government school. There was a range of academic ability though for the initial trial, the government only used school whose students were of high or very high ability.

The series of books is entitled "Science Alive!". See below for a fuller description of the series.


The cover of the Primary 3 textbook

New Science and Chemistry Books for Singapore

In 2013, two revised series of books were published for the new Singapore syllabuses that had come out a couple of years earlier. These were:

1. "All About Chemistry", the successor to the previous chemistry books.

2. "All About Science for Lower Secondary", the successor to the "New Science Discovery".

(No, I did not select the titles; in fact, I thought it rather presumptuous to include "All about" in the titles!)

Unlike the previous time round, both series of books had to be written in the same year. For this reason, another author had to help with some of the Chemistry books, though I did all the Science books myself.

The covers of the textbooks (not the practical or theory workbooks) are shown below.


"All about Chemistry O-Level" (the latest pure chemistry textbook for Singapore)


The cover of "All About Science for Lower Secondary", Volume A" (latest books for Singapore)


The cover of "All About Science for Lower Secondary", Volume B" (latest books for Singapore)

Singapore Science for Lower Secondary Forms: Student Textbooks & Teachers' Guides

My most recent edition of the science series was "All About Science for Lower Secondary" mentioned above. However, I do not have files for this series that can be viewed. However, I do have the files for the earlier series entitled "New Science Discovery for Lower Secondary" which you can view. Click on the links below.

New Science Discovery (Textbooks - Volumes 1 and 2 for Forms 1 and 2)

Same chapters (viewer)

Teachers' Guides for the above Science series

You can also view the teachers' guides for the chapters in the above science books. Because the pages are very wide, it is only suitable to view them in a separate tab. Click on the link below.

Teachers' guides for All About Science for Lower Secondary (Volumes 1 and 2 for Forms 1 and 2)

Summary of textbooks written

The file below summarises the textbooks I have written in my life, starting with a book written while I was still in New Zealand at Burnside High School. This book, written with other teachers at Burnside was not very good, did not do do well and did not last long but at least it was a start.

Textbooks written:My textbooks Same file (in file viewer}

Chemistry Textbooks for Singapore

A little background

Schools and classes in Singapore are streamed into three bands as follows:

Band 1: This is the highest academic ability group. For science, students study the three 'pure' science subjects Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The course runs for two years and leads to a Cambridge O-Level qualification. "Chemistry Insights 'O' Level" was written for these students. A practical workbook and a theory workbook accompany the textbook.

Band 2: These students also study science subjects though not in as great detail as for the 'pure' sciences. The course also runs for two years and leads to a similar Cambridge O-Level qualification. The book "Science in Focus: Chemistry 'O' Level" is for these students; it is similar to "Chemistry Insights 'O' Level" though with a reduction in the amount of content.

Band 3: These are the less academically able students; they are in the so-called 'Normal (Academic)' stream. They do a simpler two-year course leading to a local Singapore qualification. Students may then choose to do a third supplementary year that brings them up to the O-Level standard that Band 2 classes did in two years and leads to the same Cambridge O-Level qualification as for the Band 2 students. The book "Science in Focus: Chemistry 'N' Level" is written for these students.


"Chemistry Insights O Level", the 'pure' Chemistry textbook for the most able students

Science in Focus

"Science in Focus: Chemistry N-Level", the Chemistry textbook for the least able students

Viewing Chemistry textbooks

There are three 'E-books', one for each of the three Singapore Chemistry 'O' Level courses. Unfortunately. They will not open directly in a non-internet format.

But you can still view some of the chapters in the file viewer below. The first is for Chemistry Insights 'O' Level, and the second for Science in Focus: Chemistry 'N' Level. I do not have available a link for the other book, Science in Focus: Chemistry 'O' Level.

CHEMISTRY INSIGHTS 'O' Level and 'N' Level: Students' Textbooks

To view these two textbooks in separate tabs, click on the links below.

CHEMISTRY INSIGHTS 'O' Level Student textbook

CHEMISTRY INSIGHTS 'N' Level Student textbook

To view the two textbooks in the file viewer at the bottom of the page, click on these links:

Textbook: Chemistry Insights 'O' Level (in viewer)

Textbook: Science in Focus: Chemistry 'N' Level (in viewer)

Note: For all links, to obtain a suitable width of the pages in the viewer, you may have to click on the (+) or (-) magnifying glass/zoom button at the top of the page.

CHEMISTRY INSIGHTS 'O' Level: Teachers' Guides

Unfortunately, I do not have computer files for the Teachers' Guides. I only have paper files which would take a very long time to photocopy and because they are in black-and-white only would not be very interesting.

All About CHEMISTRY 'O' Level: Teachers' Guides

However, I do have computer files for the teachers' guide for all the All About CHEMISTRY 'O' Level textbook, the updated version of CHEMISTRY INSIGHTS 'O" Level (again, for your reference, on the right).

Note that a lot of the material that is in the student textbook has been omitted as the guide is for the teachers, who will also have a copy of the student textbook.

To view, click on the links below.

All About CHEMISTRY 'O' Level Teachers' Guides

Same chapters (viewer)


Science Alive for Indonesia

A little background


Click on the image for an enlarged view of the cover.

As mentioned above, the government of Indonesia has recently - very tentatively - been thinking about the use of English as a medium of instruction in schools, beginning at Primary 3. They decided to introduce this as an experiment, to a limited number of schools, primarily for the most able classes and in just two subjects - Science and Mathematics. I wrote the Science books.

To give you a flavour of the course, I will expand on the content of the Primary 6 books. There is a textbook (cover shown on the left) and a workbook.

Note: The boy and girl mascots in the books are in secular dress. This is because Indonesia, while predominantly Muslim, has a secular constitution. Contrast this with the Brunei books in which the mascots are in Islamic dress as Brunei is officially a Muslim state.

Contents of Book 6

Module A: Living Things and Life Processes

Unit 1: Living Things in Ecosystems

Unit 2: Disturbing Ecosystems

Unit 3: Reproduction in Animals

Unit 4: Reproduction in Plants

Module B: Matter and Materials

Unit 5: Matter and Energy Transfer

Unit 6: From Raw Materials to Useful Products

Module C: Force and Energy

Unit 7: Electricity

Module D: The Earth and the Universe

Unit 8: The Solar System

Sample Units from the Textbook:

Unit 4: Reproduction in Plants

Science Alive Textbook 6, Unit 4

Same unit (in file viewer)

Unit 6: From Raw Materials to Useful Products

Science Alive Textbook 6, Unit 6

Same unit (in file viewer)

And here is one unit from the workbook:

Unit 6: From Raw Materials to Useful Products

Science Alive Workbook 6, Unit 6

Same unit (in file viewer)