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How can I gain more science knowledge over the summer?

  • #1

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Hi all who view this, I am currently a high school senior and I plan to go to a community college for my first two years of college study to try and find what I would like to major in before embarking on a certain major I may not even find all that interesting later on.

I love science, but my knowledge in it is kinda abysmal. I haven't had much science these past few years of high school (1 year of biology, 1 year of physical science, and dual-enrolled Human Anatomy and Physiology I).

Now here is my question: what should/could I do, study-wise, over the summer to help prepare myself for college science courses? Should I maybe try to self-study high school level chemistry and physics over the summer? Any suggestions on how I can get my science intuition level up?

(If anyone wonders what my current math background is, I am about or almost halfway through the course 'College Trigonometry' and sitting on an A grade average currently)
 
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  • #2
berkeman
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I'd recommend trying to get your math skills up higher. It would be good if you could get up to intro calculus before college, IMO. Even if it's just some intro level stuff...
 
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  • #3
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Your question is a bit broad to answer specifically. There is a difference between preparing for certain courses or subjects and to widen your basic knowledge. I think it is most important to be curious. So you could just read a book about what interests you most. I doesn't have to be a college book, it could just be something like Hawking's A Brief History of Time or Hofstadter's Gödel Escher Bach or another one that caught your interest. Curiosity is more important than technical knowledge at this stage - in my opinion, esp. as you don't know yet which path to follow.

In case you want to do both at a time, then you could look for books here: https://openstax.org/subjects where you can find rather technical books on various fields which mainly cover the transition from high school to college. They are basically books for college courses. However, I still think it's more important to read something interesting rather than to learn ahead, but this depends on so many unknowns, that it is hard to tell. Sometimes school kids are so far behind, that it makes sense to close some technical gaps first, because college might be a bit too late to learn the basics.
 
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  • #4
I'd recommend trying to get your math skills up higher. It would be good if you could get up to intro calculus before college, IMO. Even if it's just some intro level stuff...
That is one of the things I had in mind to do during the summer. How far into Calculus I topics do you believe would be a good goal to aim for having studied and practiced by the end of the summer? Derivatives? Maybe basic integrals? I would also like to continue practicing precalculus topics so that I am well fluent in those fundamental areas.
 
  • #5
berkeman
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That is one of the things I had in mind to do during the summer. How far into Calculus I topics do you believe would be a good goal to aim for having studied and practiced by the end of the summer? Derivatives? Maybe basic integrals? I would also like to continue practicing precalculus topics so that I am well fluent in those fundamental areas.
I wouldn't try to dive too far into Calculus before your first classes, but I think it might be helpful for you to be comfortable with the basic concepts of derivatives and integrals. What learning resources do you like to use for this?

And, BTW, the advice from @fresh_42 is much better than mine in this thread... :smile:
 
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  • #6
Your question is a bit broad to answer specifically. There is a difference between preparing for certain courses or subjects and to widen your basic knowledge. I think it is most important to be curious. So you could just read a book about what interests you most. I doesn't have to be a college book, it could just be something like Hawking's A Brief History of Time or Hofstadter's Gödel Escher Bach or another one that caught your interest. Curiosity is more important than technical knowledge at this stage - in my opinion, esp. as you don't know yet which path to follow.

In case you want to do both at a time, then you could look for books here: https://openstax.org/subjects where you can find rather technical books on various fields which mainly cover the transition from high school to college. They are basically books for college courses. However, I still think it's more important to read something interesting rather than to learn ahead, but this depends on so many unknowns, that it is hard to tell. Sometimes school kids are so far behind, that it makes sense to close some technical gaps first, because college might be a bit too late to learn the basics.
That is an interesting perspective. I am interested and curious about the areas of physics, astronomy, and math so I could read literature like A Brief History of Time to help gain some extra intuition.

You were right about my question being broad so let me add, the only college course I will be taking next fall will be General Chemistry.

Thanks for linking that website, I had came across it in the pass and had forgotten the url.
 
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  • #7
I wouldn't try to dive too far into Calculus before your first classes, but I think it might be helpful for you to be comfortable with the basic concepts of derivatives and integrals. What learning resources do you like to use for this?

And, BTW, the advice from @fresh_42 is much better than mine in this thread... :smile:
I could use Coursera, Khan Academy, Paul's Online Math Notes, Openstax (aha), and I have access to Saxon Calculus. The text that I mentioned may not be that great to use though because it teaches Calculus from an incremental approach rather than a mastery approach and doesn't teach the Epsilon-Delta definition of a limit.
 
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You were right about my question being broad so let me add, the only college course I will be taking next fall will be General Chemistry.
As an add on: I find the history of <science/> (insert whatever you like, e.g. chemistry) especially interesting. It gives you insights about the motivations, the relations between different realms and a glance on the persons involved. E.g. the periodic table wasn't the result of a strange dream of Mendeleev, it evolved and it had many gaps. The closure of these gaps, where and when the elements have been found by whom, and how they have been extracted form often complex mineral combinations is exciting as a crime story - o.k. maybe this is a bit of a nerdish point of view and personal taste.
 
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  • #9
As an add on: I find the history of <science/> (insert whatever you like, e.g. chemistry) especially interesting. It gives you insights about the motivations, the relations between different realms and a glance on the persons involved. E.g. the periodic table wasn't the result of a strange dream of Mendeleev, it evolved and it had many gaps. The closure of these gaps, where and when the elements have been found by whom, and how they have been extracted form often complex mineral combinations is exciting as a crime story - o.k. maybe this is a bit of a nerdish point of view and personal taste.
That's definitely a good point. I know what you mean by that because I enjoy reading about the history of math even though I'm only at the precalculus level.
 
  • #10
symbolipoint
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That is one of the things I had in mind to do during the summer. How far into Calculus I topics do you believe would be a good goal to aim for having studied and practiced by the end of the summer? Derivatives? Maybe basic integrals? I would also like to continue practicing precalculus topics so that I am well fluent in those fundamental areas.
You have a choice. Review as much of College Algebra as you can (or called, "Pre-Calculus"); or try to study the equivalent of half of first semester Calculus 1 using the book you expect to be assigned in your college, studying the instruction, discussions, example problems, and section exercises.
 
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  • #11
You have a choice. Review as much of College Algebra as you can (or called, "Pre-Calculus"); or try to study the equivalent of half of first semester Calculus 1 using the book you expect to be assigned in your college, studying the instruction, discussions, example problems, and section exercises.
What would be wrong with choosing both options? If it is the case of having to make that choice, I will wait until I am finished with College Trig and see how well I do in the rest of the course. It would be fine to me to just jump into Calculus after Trig if I finish this semester strong because the first chapter of the book my prospective college currently uses for Calculus I and II is a review of Precalc concepts.
 
  • #12
symbolipoint
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What would be wrong with choosing both options? If it is the case of having to make that choice, I will wait until I am finished with College Trig and see how well I do in the rest of the course. It would be fine to me to just jump into Calculus after Trig if I finish this semester strong because the first chapter of the book my prospective college currently uses for Calculus I and II is a review of Precalc concepts.
Do not let that first chapter mislead you. You will concentrate on actual Calculus 1 material during your enrolled term. You can review whatever you want during the summer. You can also instead of choosing either prestudy half of Calculus 1 OR restudy College Algebra, you could choose to review Intermediate Algebra. You could choose instead, to review Trigonometry. If you were strong in all of Trig, Intermed & College Algebra, then pre-studying the first semester of Calculus 1 would be a good idea. (Or half of it).
 
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  • #13
Do not let that first chapter mislead you. You will concentrate on actual Calculus 1 material during your enrolled term. You can review whatever you want during the summer. You can also instead of choosing either prestudy half of Calculus 1 OR restudy College Algebra, you could choose to review Intermediate Algebra. You could choose instead, to review Trigonometry. If you were strong in all of Trig, Intermed & College Algebra, then pre-studying the first semester of Calculus 1 would be a good idea. (Or half of it).
Sounds like a good idea.

Just in case you thought I meant taking Calculus I over the summer, when I mentioned jumping into Calculus and the first chapter of the book, I meant that in terms of self-study over the summer so that I can make sure I am well versed in Algebra and Trigonometry through the use of the first chapter of the book.
 
  • #14
symbolipoint
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Sounds like a good idea.

Just in case you thought I meant taking Calculus I over the summer, when I mentioned jumping into Calculus and the first chapter of the book, I meant that in terms of self-study over the summer so that I can make sure I am well versed in Algebra and Trigonometry through the use of the first chapter of the book.
How thoroughly you use that first chapter in the Calc 1 book is up to you. It might be all you need; it might be an excellent review for either brief or careful review; or it might not be detailed enough compared to books dedicated to that chapter's material. I can't be sure without knowing your actual skills and knowledge and without seeing that first chapter's outline and full set.

That review stuff in your Calculus 1 book is along the same lines that some intermediate algebra books may contain one or two review chapters of introductory algebra stuff; or like your Pre-Calculus book might contain a couple of chapters on what should have already been learned in all of introductory and intermediate algebra.

This is like, "Remember this stuff you already learned? Let's take a quick look at it!"
 
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  • #15
How thoroughly you use that first chapter in the Calc 1 book is up to you. It might be all you need; it might be an excellent review for either brief or careful review; or it might not be detailed enough compared to books dedicated to that chapter's material. I can't be sure without knowing your actual skills and knowledge and without seeing that first chapter's outline and full set.
The book that my college currently uses is Briggs, Chochran & Gillett, Calculus, 2nd Edition.

Although I can't give a full set of examples and problems, the outline of the first chapter goes like this:
1. Functions
1.1 Review of Functions
1.2 Representing Functions
1.3 Inverse, Exponential, and Logarithmic Functions
1.4 Trigonometric Functions and Their Inverses
 
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  • #16
Dr. Courtney
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ALEKS precalculus.

The laws of nature are written in the language of mathematics.

Learn the language. Master the language. Love the language.
 
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  • #17
ALEKS precalculus.

The laws of nature are written in the language of mathematics.

Learn the language. Master the language. Love the language.
From my last forum post, I hadn't forgot your advice about using ALEKS Precalculus as a way to improve my math skills, but I didn't really realize that strong math skills alone are more important than the science taught in high school for success in college science courses (besides physics, I know math is the key to success in that area).
 
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Dr. Courtney
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From my last forum post, I hadn't forgot your advice about using ALEKS Precalculus as a way to improve my math skills, but I didn't really realize that strong math skills alone is more important than the science taught in high school for success in college science courses (besides physics, I know math is the key to success in that area).
Math is as important for science as reading is for history.
 
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