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Calculus based Physics

  1. Aug 14, 2009 #1
    I an engineering student and I'm looking for a little advice. The instuctor at my school is giving me a chance to take Physics I-A (calculus based), opposed to General Physics (algebra & trig. based), without having the pre-req. for the class. The pre-req. is Cal. I-II and I'm taking those in the Spring. I know some Calculus from studying the past summer but would like to know if me not taking the Cal. I-II will hinder my performance greatly. Do any of you think this is a good idea or I should just wait?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2009 #2
    If you know some calculus and remember how to derive and integrate basic stuff, you should be fine. I took Physics I after taking Calculus II and I don't remember it being too bad. Of course, it's up to you and how strong you are in math and how much outside time you're willing to devote to learning basic calculus concepts.
  4. Aug 14, 2009 #3
    This really depends on how the instructor teaches physics 1. When I took calculus-based physics as a freshman, I never needed to do a single derivative. Our professor used calculus when introducing new material, but never put anything with calculus on the exam or homework (this wasn't a policy of his, it just worked out that way). On the other hand, when I taught physics 1 my first year of graduate school, the instructor put plenty of physics on the homework and exams, and my students were expected to be adept at it. Personally I think it's a good idea to at least be taking calculus 1 concurrently with physics 1. But if you're confident with the material you've taught yourself, I guess you'll be OK.

    Just a sidenote: don't attempt this with physics 2. When you start getting into electricity and magnetism, you'll be doing a lot of integrals, and you probably want to at least have calculus 1 under your belt.
  5. Aug 15, 2009 #4
    You should be fine. I'm also taking calc-based physics without the pre-req (calc 1) because i convinced the professor i talked to into it. I told him that i taught myself calculus and he said he'd give me a brief quiz and if i got 100% i could take the calc-based. It turned out when he said brief, he meant very brief. The quiz consisted of two questions: 1) integral of x2 and 2) derivative of x2. Needless to say i passed, and you should be fine too :smile:
  6. Aug 16, 2009 #5
    Having taught both Calc based and Algebra based Physics I, there are two things I would like to say about this:

    1. 90% of the students I taught struggled more with the mathematics needed in physics than with the physical concepts.

    2. I think that calculus based Physics I, is much easier on the student. For instance, trying to help someone who does not understand Calculus grasp the relationship between position, velocity and acceleration without Calculus can be tedious for both the instructor and the student.

    So with those two things being said, it really all depends on how comfortable you are with Calculus.
  7. Aug 16, 2009 #6
    Thanks guys, I really appreciate the comments.
  8. Aug 16, 2009 #7
    Also, I found this site with video tutorials on limits and derivatives that could help greatly throughout the course if you aren't too confident in yourself with them now. All of these are short clips which you could watch in an hour (there are 11) and will help your knowledge immensely, and possibly come in handy throughout the course.

    http://www.calculus-help.com/funstuff/phobe.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Aug 17, 2009 #8
    I enrolled in the Physics I-A. The instructor said that there are only a couple of problems in each unit that require the knowledge of derivatives or integrals. I appreciate all of the comments. Thanks
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