Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Physics Progression Questions Answered

In one of my online groups I had a mom ask me some questions about teaching science, and what progressions I suggest....here's my responses...

What books am I using for Quantum Physics?

We are using "Alice in Quantumland" and "Scrooge's Cryptic Carol" both are awesome for creating that visual picture for things that are so conceptual, as well as "The Cartoon Guide To Physics" and "Janice VanCleave's Physics for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments". But I've always just made my own curriculums.

What sequence did you use for beginning Physics?

Ok basically I taught/will teach them in this order -

Machines (levers, wheels, etc), Motion/Forces (intro Newton's Laws), Light & Sound/Waves, Optics, Matter/Fluids,Probability/Measurement, Electricity/Magnetism, Heat/Thermodynamics,The Atom, Quantum, Astro, Nuclear, The 10 Dimensions, Newton, Einstein, Steven Hawking, Neils Bohr = until the Quantum I didn't teach the formula's that went with the topics (since my kids were REALLY young when we started (toddlers) so much of the formula's were beyond them....that's why I introduced Newton then went back to it later in more depth - where I could include the mathematics (to a certain extent).

Although I also found my background made teaching math easier as well (haha) in that scientists like Physicists realize the 'numbers' in all equations are just titles or names for sets. This is the same in Physics with their advanced equations - each letter/symbol stands for another set. Believe it or not changing the 'number' names to symbols or letters keeps things more organized and less confusing. (of course many of the symbols also stand for other equations, but that's another matter). Many kids/teachers get caught up on the identifiers - the number 3 times the number 5 always makes the number 15 - then once the student reaches middle or high school we throw away the numbers in favor of letters/symbols for algebra when most student's lock up with confusion not understanding what the x's and the y's are supposed to be about, But I think I've digressed, lol...

Online Physics Resources?
Some of the websites I love:

http://www.school-for-champions.com/science.htm#Physics http://www.lbl.gov/abc/ http://www.chemmybear.com/shapes.html http://americanhistory.si.edu/kids/molecule/ http://www.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/InventorsToolbox.html http://www.howeverythingworks.org/ http://www.blackcatsystems.com/science/radiation.html
http://www.kqed.org/quest/television/view/397 (the science of a home run)
http://slinky.org/ Demonstrating Physics Concepts with the Amazing Slinky!

http://www.pitt.edu/~poole/physics.html = For the Physics Teacher

{My husband suggested} to do basic physics, then basic chemistry, before diving into quantum or more advanced/specific physics? He said she will need that basic chem before more advanced physics?

As i sated in one of my previous replies, my oldest is also special needs - he has Aspergers, which makes straight up math (like multiplication tables) difficult. He's way advanced with understanding concepts though - like he can explain multiplication, he just get's confused when it's a worksheet in front of him. Anywho - because of this difficulty we are going a little out of the norm for progression. If we were focusing on advancing through science in the normal way, including most of the basic (if not calculus) equations, then I'd say yes. You want a solid understanding of basic physics and chemistry before going into the conceptual (like atomic and quantum) this is because the math for these are really advanced logrythms and calculus - so if you don't understand the math behind Force = Mass x Acceleration then you'll never understand E = MC squared. BUT, due to the complication of being able to manipulate mathmatics I took a round about root. I'm doing some of the more conceptual stuff first, without the mathmatics. So essentially we are covering the 'discussions' without the 'proof' - which to a physics buff sound really stupid - why discuss something when you have no concrete evidence such a thing is viable? But when teaching on of the hardest things for me was to teach the boys how THEY needed to learn not how I wished I had been TAUGHT. So that's the reason for the book choices I previously mentioned - they offer very little in the way of math. They are discussing the concepts of Physics as well as the history of the science. That's why we plan on going back and focusing on some of the most intrumental scientists later - to focus on the PROOF once my son catches up with the math. I didn't want to hold him back - he loves the discussions - just because learning the equations are much like learning to read a foreign language.
When it comes to Chemistry - we plan on covering basic chemistry when we focus on Atoms and their structure - this is primarily because we have no access to an advanced Chem lab, so again much of our lessons will be more conceptual (how this substance and this substance come together to form this substance). We can do several 'kitchen' experiments and the rest we can postulate on paper, which often involve breaking things down to the atomic level. Then near the middle-end of the year, once the kids have a handle on the structure and behavior of an atom, and how one substances atom reacts/mixes to another we can start filtering in more conceptual/modern discussions on sub-atomic and atomic theory. Which naturally would lead to the next level nuclear fission.

An understanding of basic physics - essentially Newton's Laws - is essential before even entering a discussion on the more specific physics. Chemistry is somewhat debatable. If one understands different types of matter (liquid, solid and gas) and a tiny bit of the structure/differences of matter, as well as some very basic machines, then you can easily have broad discussions in Quantum and Astro Physics. Nuclear really should have a basis in light and heat (as it is all about radiation) and Atomic theory should have a solid comprehension of the structure of matter (atoms and molecules). But again, it all depends on how you teach basic physics. Furthermore for a solid A & P class one doesn't really even need to have physics nor chemistry, you could technically do it before biology as it really focuses so specifically on the human body as a machine.

That's how we've been working things though....as I always say, what works for one may not work for another.

Free Spelling Lists

I found this great link today to one of our hardest subjects - SPELLING -