The other class I’l be teaching this year is physics for homeschooled high schoolers, mostly 10th graders, including my oldest son. Last year we did honors biology, using a college level textbook, Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology (9th Edition) and weekly labs, including dissections. A couple of the kids took the SAT subject test at the end of the year and did great. Never having had biology in college, this was a tough course for me to teach, I basically was learning along with the kids. This year will be so much easier since I used to teach college physics, and more fun… I’d much rather play with slinkys and lasers than dissect pigs.
I bought a few next physics textbooks when trying to decide which book to use this year but I just couldn’t find one that I liked until I looked at Light and Matter by Benjamin Crowell – a FREE text available on his website as a PDF. I found it to be very readable and hope the kids will too. The text is intended for an algebra based physics course and should prepare the kids to take the AP Physics 1 & 2 exams at the end of the year, or at least the SAT Physics Subject Test if they want to. We’l do weekly labs, a lot of which I got out of the AP Physics Lab Manual. We’l be using iPads and Video Physics to take data. Video Physics is a great app that allows you take a movie with the iPad’s camera and then mark the object of interest, for example a falling ball, in each frame, and if you give it a frame of reference, like a meter stick in the movie, it will graph the position of the object vs time. I think this is a lot more intuitive than just using a few photo gates.
Usually I lecture at the beginning of class and then we do a lab, but this year we’re going to dive right into the labs and if needed I will ‘teach’ during the analysis part. Students will be doing all their work in laboratory notebooks so that at the end of the year they will have the ‘proof’ to show to college admissions that they did indeed take a laboratory course. We did this last year with biology as well.