With an attractive format, this set covers wide areas of the sciences and technology, from Abacus and Acid Rain to X-rays and Zoology. While the information is accurate, the entries are generally too short to fill most report needs for the intermediate grades. For younger children the vocabulary is too difficult. The set was originally published in Australia. A slant toward this continent is evident in some illustrations that are acceptable but that would be better if they focused on the U.S., for example, Cargo Transport (truck in the outback), Conservation (Australian National Park), Endangered Animals (Australian bilby), and Newspapers and Magazines (news rack with mainly Australian publications). In the index under Australia are 26 references; under United States, 21.
The illustrations consist of color photographs, drawings, and maps. The illustration for Genes is reversed--black hair labeled blond hair and vice versa. A few page headings have errors; for example, the page heading above the article Zoos is "Xoos" (the article heading is correct). The set does not have biographical entries but does mention a number of scientists and inventors. There is, however, no mention of George Washington Carver, Charles Drew, Luther Burbank, John Muir, or Maria Mitchell.
The index volume begins with a list of 19 important elements, with their main uses noted. This is followed by a sampling of technical breakthroughs and inventions from prehistoric times to 1954 (the ax, hammer, and lever to the birth control pill); "Influential People in Science and Technology" (e.g., Archimedes, Neil Armstrong, Christian Barnard, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Florence Nightingale); and very brief notes about such items as aspirin, the hula hoop, the umbrella, and the zipper. The material in the above sections does not appear in the index. The index volume concludes with conversion tables.
This set is actually a simplified, abbreviated version of The Grolier Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (1993), which was published for grades 5^-10. Most of the illustrations are the same as those in that set. The entries in the 1993 set are more in-depth, offer substantial information, and do include biographical articles. The print is larger in the current set, with a more open format.
The Grolier Student Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and the Environment will have limited use as a reference set for upper-elementary grades. It does offer, however, a good introduction to a variety of scientific and technical subjects and makes an attractive browsing set.