How can I gain more science knowledge over the summer?

In summary, the conversation revolves around a high school senior who plans to attend community college for their first two years of college to explore different majors before committing to one. They express interest in science but admit their knowledge is lacking. They ask for suggestions on how to prepare for college science courses over the summer, including self-studying high school level chemistry and physics. The conversation also touches on the importance of being curious and recommends reading books on topics of interest. Additionally, the conversation briefly mentions the importance of improving math skills, particularly in calculus, before college.
  • #1
PseudoQuantum
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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
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
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
berkeman said:
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
PseudoQuantum said:
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
fresh_42 said:
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
berkeman said:
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.
 
  • #8
PseudoQuantum said:
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
fresh_42 said:
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
PseudoQuantum said:
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
symbolipoint said:
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
PseudoQuantum said:
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
symbolipoint said:
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
PseudoQuantum said:
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
symbolipoint said:
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
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
Dr. Courtney said:
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).
 
  • #18
PseudoQuantum said:
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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Related to How can I gain more science knowledge over the summer?

1. How can I gain more science knowledge over the summer?

There are several ways you can gain more science knowledge over the summer. One option is to enroll in summer science courses or camps. You can also participate in science-related activities or experiments at home. Reading science books or articles, watching educational videos, and attending science lectures or events are also great ways to expand your knowledge.

2. What are some fun ways to learn about science during the summer?

Learning about science doesn't have to be boring. You can make it fun by conducting hands-on experiments, going on nature walks, or organizing a science-themed scavenger hunt. You can also try creating science-inspired crafts or games, or participating in online science challenges or competitions.

3. Are there any online resources I can use to learn more about science over the summer?

Yes, there are many online resources you can use to learn about science. Some popular options include Khan Academy, Coursera, and edX, which offer free online courses in various scientific fields. You can also access science articles, videos, and interactive simulations on websites like National Geographic, ScienceDaily, and Discovery Education.

4. How can I stay motivated to continue learning about science over the summer?

Staying motivated can be challenging, but setting specific goals and tracking your progress can help. You can also find a study buddy or join a study group to keep yourself accountable and engaged. Additionally, rewarding yourself for reaching milestones or completing tasks can also be a great way to stay motivated.

5. Can I use my summer science knowledge to prepare for future academic or career opportunities?

Absolutely! Learning more about science over the summer can not only expand your knowledge and skills, but it can also prepare you for future academic or career opportunities. Whether you're interested in pursuing a career in science or simply want to excel in your science classes, the knowledge and experience gained during the summer can be beneficial in achieving your goals.

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