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How do you guys/gals feel about HS algebra-based physics?

  1. Nov 2, 2004 #1
    I want to take AP Physics B (my school doesn't offer C) when I'm a senior and want to know that I'm not going to be wasting my time. So is an algebra-based physics worth taking? Or do you feel that I should just wait another year until I get into college to take a calculus based class?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2004 #2
    Oh, wow.. If I were in that situation, I'd instantly take it. Our school has the worst physics cirriculum ever. We have it divided into four parts (basics, electricity, optics, mechanics..) each one semester, which all together goes for two years. Each of these are extremely easy and dulled down. I'm sick of self-studying physics.. Anyhow, I guess I didn't really answer your question, but I'd take it.
  4. Nov 2, 2004 #3

    Tom Mattson

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    When I took it, I liked it. When I taught it, I hated it.

    Teaching that course is like trying to swim with handcuffs on. Problems that have really slick solutions with calculus can be very tedious with algebra (try doing Gauss' law with summation signs).

    When I did take calculus based physics the following year, I found that there was not much calculus, and not much new physics. In fact I was really agitated to be doing the same inclined plane problems all over again.

    I think that if your math is up to snuff, you should skip Physics Lite and go for the college freshman sequence.

    Why don't you take it at a community college now? It's not that expenseive, and lots of high school seniors (and some juniors) do it.
  5. Nov 3, 2004 #4
    If you can, skip it and go on to a calculus based one. The calculus in C is actually pretty basic, I could have done it with just from Algebra II and Trig under my belt, probably even without Trig. My teacher taught my friends in C derivitives and integrals in like three days. In calculus you spend a whole semester to learn the same. Partially because you go more indepth into useless stuff you'll never use and, atleast at my school, a lot of "math-handicaped" people who need a week to re-learn what sine and cosine are... Take note that this is also an AP class. I don't know why people who obviously aren't good at math take freaking calculus, its not even required, they can take statistics or math analysis which are both a thousand times easier. All my life I was told calculus was super hard and only for serious math people, like rocket scientists. What a lie. Calculus is ten times easier than algebra. Sorry I'm starting to rant. I've just been bummed that I haven't had a challenging math class in almost 2 years.

    If you want my honest opinion and you're wanting to have a career in physic/engineering definately skip pre-cal, biggest waste of time on earth. Skip physics B and take a calculus based physics class. If possible skip high school calculus and take a college based calculus course. Then if you're a senior and have C done, you can take quantum at a community college (fun!!!).

    Don't get me wrong, I took it B and loved it. But going into something more advanced will probably prepare you better for the future.
  6. Nov 3, 2004 #5
    Take it.

    I began a physics minor (now major) in college with absolutely zero high school training in the subject. Not something I would recommend.
  7. Nov 6, 2004 #6
    I beg to differ! I had zero physics in highschool. I had a little trouble with vectors in the start(we skipped vectors in precal) but other than that i seem to be doing great in the calculus based physics. :redface: Practice is the key to sucess, unless your a genious which I am not :smile:
  8. Nov 8, 2004 #7
    Right now im taking an online (!) high-school algebra-based physics course. It is fairly interesting, the most I have out of it now is gaining important concepts without the misconceptions. It doesn't go into much detail (things such as moments of inertia and stress/strain moduluses of impact were skipped) but at least a conceptual course such as this one is better than no course at all.

    Mathematically it is pretty easy because I am currently taking AP Calculus, but I wished our school actually had a physics course. Im glad the Florida Virtual School managed to sponsor a program, because the nearest community college that offers the course is over an hour away. Taxpayer dollars at work $$$.

    Has anyone else taken an online physics course? How did they do when they went to college?
  9. Nov 10, 2004 #8
    When i was in highschool physics(i think it's called honour's physics elsewhere) was algebra based. AP Physics was calc based. (we had to take our courses both semesters automatically...even if you failed the first sem)

    My math was Algebra II and Algebra III, I didn't even get to Trig in h.s (don't laugh, it's deep) and calc based physics really wasn't that difficult to grasp... actually is was a pretty fun way to learn physics for the first time. I'd say take it...
  10. Nov 10, 2004 #9
    I really want to say it's worthless but some colleges give you credit for it (mine does but the course they give you won't count toward your engineering major). I think it doesn't give you the whole story behind physics. You can't understand physics without knowledge of calculus. I wouldn't take it over something that will get you credit in college.
  11. Nov 10, 2004 #10
    My problem with high school physics is that so often the teachers just throw formula after formula at you and just want you to mindless throw back number after number. Oftentimes, when you then get into a more difficult physics class, the problems are not so straightforward, but your strategy for solving the problems is still to throw all the formulas you know and all the numbers you're given at it until you get something that you can throw back. This, well, simply doesn't work.

    High school physics might just end up hurting you by getting you thinking "These are the equations of physics, it's all I need to do physics, period." and disregarding the concepts behind the equations.

    That being said, there are some college physics classes out there that do the same thing, so I suppose everything's fair game.

  12. Nov 10, 2004 #11
    I am currently in an AP physics C course in my senior year. I am fortunate enough to have a school which has a fairly strong physics base. We have a program that requires the students to take BC calculus in grade 11 just so we could do some calculus based physics the following semester. I think the physics and calculus programs in our school are quite advanced. For example, this year in physics we had to know polar calculus and learn differential equations so that our teacher could prove kepler's first law for us.

    That being said, I don't think there is huge value in an algebra based physics course. It is so much easier learning most of the material have some calculus base. Calculus is really also the language of physics.
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