The Nuffield Science Teaching Project began in 1962. One of the first problems tackled by the project was the teaching of O-level physics, chemistry and biology. The Nuffield Chemistry team produced guidance for teachers in a Sample Scheme covering ages 11-16 in three stages.
The rationale for the development work was spelled out in a Handbook for Teachers. Much of the innovation concentrated on practical work with the outcomes being summarised in a book of Collected Experiments. The commitment to guided discovery through practical investigations meant that there was limited material for students. A notable innovation was the lively series of Background Books. These were intended to amplify and extend the work done in class and to stimulate the interest of students in the wider aspects of their study.
The developers were keen to emphasise that the scheme was only a sample, and that many other items of chemical subject-matter could be taught using the Nuffield approach; an approach which put particular emphasis on students finding out things for themselves under careful direction, rather than being told facts and made blindly to learn them.
The Nuffield Chemistry Background Books appeared as a series of colourful, highly illustrated, short readers to amplify and extend work done in class. Some of the books described applications of chemistry, others were historical while a few focused on particular...