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13 y/o Learning physics

  1. Feb 26, 2014 #1
    [Im in year 7] Hi im wanting to learn physics. I know some physics (theory of relativity, what a atom is made up of, some matter, laws of motion and other things, particle accelerators etc.). I'm also heaps into radiation (alpha, beta, x-ray, gamma, infrared, fission, fusion, SCRAM, plutonium etc.). I asked my science teacher what year we can do physics and he said year 11 which i dont want to wait for.
    Any good links please tell me i always like to feed my curiosity.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Welcome to PF;
    Most physics sites are supplying notes to suppliment actual lessons - probably your best approach is to see if you can get hold of the physics text your school uses, maybe see if you can find some physics students to help.

    It would help assess what to tell you about if we knew a bit more detail about your level of knowledge and ability.
    i.e. do you know about vectors in math? what do you know about Newton's laws of motion?

    Have you had a look at MIT's Open Courseware?
    http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm i.e. Physics I
    ... the trick is, if you don't understand something in there - look for a simpler primer on that particular thing.
    That way it starts out hard and gets easier.

    At the other end of the scale:
    The Physics Classroom
    (Caution: I've not reviewed this site much.)

    Most people find the hardest part is the maths.
  4. Feb 26, 2014 #3
    At this stage, it's probably better to try and get ahead in math. It's hard to study physics properly without knowing calculus or at least trigonometry.

    See if your school has an accelerated math program, or ask your teachers for supplementary material.
  5. Feb 26, 2014 #4


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    math, math and more math..

    You may want to do physics now, I did to when i was in 7th grade, but there isnt a whole lot to learn until you have, as Poley said, some understanding of calculus/pre-calc.

    Haven't looked into this a whole lot, but I think you only need to know some algebra and maybe a bit of trig. This is probably about on the 7th grade - 9th grade level.
  6. Feb 27, 2014 #5
    At 13, I'm very impressed you even know what those things are. I'll tell you what I basically did when I was at your age and looking to start self-learning.

    Get yourself to a library. Start with mathematics: at your age I think you'll just be learning algebra, so find some books about that and get a good handle on it. Then do precalculus and calculus and finally linear algebra and differential equations. If it sounds intimidating and alien, don't worry, you'll understand when you get there. Math is the foundation of physics, and if you take the time to learn all of that everything else will come much more easily.

    After that, start looking around for books about physics. You should be able to find a few old college level textbooks on physics at your library. This is where the math will come in handy. Don't let the boring introductory stuff put you off: when you're through with all of that, then you'll be able to start learning about the really cool stuff.

    See if you can get your parents to hire you a tutor, make it very clear you're looking to start getting ahead of your class. Even if you wait to year 11 (junior year in the States) the physics you'll do then will bore the pants off of you. Physics classes don't really start getting interesting until your third year of college.

    Also, if you happen to live near a university, call and see if you can set up an appointment with someone in the physics department. Talk to them about your interest and ask about their own background and if they know of programs for people of your age and level of education (they almost certainly will). A lot of colleges host Summer programs for high school students, that might be a good experience for you.

    If you want to learn it, it is completely possible.

    As for things you can do right away:

    Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/) has a lot of information on physics and the math you'll need for it in the format of short videos. I would start here.

    If you're looking to really get into it, Coursera.org is a service that provides free college-level courses online, very much like MIT open courseware (mentioned above, which you should also check out). I think there are a few upcoming general physics and calculus courses, as well as advanced topics in math, physics, and engineering for when you've mastered those.

    Best of luck. Wish more young people would be interested in that stuff.
  7. Feb 27, 2014 #6
    Yeah like a lot of people in this thread said physics or anything cool isn't going to be like what you read in popular science magazines. You're going to have to know a lot of math. I would recommend just at this point taking math classes above grade level. Also, see if you can pull some things to maybe work in lab or something even as just a button-pusher.
  8. Feb 28, 2014 #7
    Thanks all for the advice i think its time to hit the books!
  9. Feb 28, 2014 #8


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    I started with Physics in Gr.8
    I would also suggest learning more maths and get a math mind.I got a B in maths in Gr.7 and A* in Gr.8

    Maybe it's because of learning both Physics and Maths.

    Understanding Physics means understanding more maths.The more math you know,the more physics you understand.That's how it was for me.:wink:
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