Looking for a good physics book for an 8th grader

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  • #1
Scrumhalf
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My son, who had been into biology and paleontology throughout middle school, is now veering suddenly towards physics. I've been bombarded with questions like "why do hot objects radiate light" and "what is electromagnetic radiation" and so on. Being an electrical engineer, I can handle most of these questions, or look up what I cannot, but it would be nice to buy him a book (or 5) for his upcoming birthday.

Can you recommend any good books that he can handle? Obviously, the focus should be on concepts, rather than equations at this stage, but we did talk about the relationship between energy and frequency, and I showed him what Plank's constant is and so on.

Subjects could be varied - I'm thinking thermodynamics and heat, atomic/quantum theory, and electricity/magetism could be topics that are accessible with the right treatment.

Thanks!
 

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  • #2
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Jewel Walker wrote a book some time ago called the Flying Circus Of Physics that had explanations like this.

http://www.flyingcircusofphysics.com/

There is the Benjamin Crowell free downloadable book on Conceptual Physics that is geared for linreral arts majors but may be beyond your sons reading level. But hey it’s free and he’s got other books at his website www.lightandmatter.com

Barnes and Noble usually has bargain books on physics like Science 1001 and Physics in Minutes and Physics in a 100 Numbers

And there are DK books on Science with lots of cool illustrations and their Universe book.
 
  • #3
ISamson
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Simple concepts can be learned through good documentaries.
Pearson make quite interesting textbooks.
I think it would be a good idea for your son to read some non-fiction books on physics by famous authors like Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku and Ian Stewart.
 
  • #4
berkeman
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Obviously, the focus should be on concepts, rather than equations at this stage
This is a fun book that I bought for my son in early high school. It may help to inspire some fun discussions with your son:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0935218068/?tag=pfamazon01-20

51GS1YG4DEL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
 
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  • #5
Scrumhalf
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Thanks! Great suggestions! We watch a lot of documentaries. I'll check out the book recommendations. Thanks again!
 
  • #6
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Yes, @Ivan Samsonov says there are some really good documentaries out there. Ive found many on YouTube.

Some great resources are Veritasium, Minute Physics and VSauce on youtube.
 
  • #7
Dr Transport
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Hewitt: Conceptual Physics....Some math, not much, very low level algebra, something an 8tgh grader should be able to handle.
 
  • #8
Wrichik Basu
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@Scrumhalf You should teach him a bit of basic Physics first, like vectors or so. His inquisitive nature is very good one. Introduce him to Atomic Structure, amd then to the jewel, quantum. Also teach him a deal of classical, and show him how they differ.

I'll tell how my parents had helped in developeing my love for physics. Firstly, I went to a teacher in class 7, who, due to his lack of time and owing to similarity of syllabus, used to teach me with class 8. In my school, class 9 syllabus is taught in 8, so I was practically studying ninth grade topics in seventh grade. My father, being a civil engineer, knew some good books in Physics, which he bought for me. They were all class 11 or 12 books, like Concepts of Physics by H. C. Verma and Fundamentals of Physics by Resnick and Halliday. These gave a boost to the interest, and then I never had to look behind.

Introduce your son to new concepts, and let him do some research. Gradually interest will grow, and will reach the peak and become constant. :smile:
 
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  • #9
Scrumhalf
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Thanks! Yes, I've been teaching him the basics like you indicate. Just want to supplement it with some good reading material.
 
  • #10
Wrichik Basu
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Thanks! Yes, I've been teaching him the basics like you indicate. Just want to supplement it with some good reading material.
Actually, there is practically no good book for a student in class 8. Even I had faced this difficulty, as I didn't know all the calculus then. Still, I tried, as my father has completely forgotten calculus since he never needs to use it in his work. You can remove the calculus derivations, and teach him the phenomena and the guiding principles of the phenomena.

Like, you can easily explain Coulomb's Law, but don't do the sums, but do the phenomena that are explained by it. Mechanics is a bit of a problem. In optics, you can teach him all formulae as you don't have great calculus derivations in class 11. Explain the phenomena of radioactivity, tell him Bohr's theory, Planck's theory, and give him an idea of particle physics.

Once he has the maturity, you can go forth and teach Trigonometry and single variable calculus. Then it'll be no more a problem.

Happy knowledge hunting for father and son! :smile:
 
  • #11
Apple_Mango
Has he done Algebra one yet already? Why don't you send him to College to do Algebra one based physics.
 
  • #12
berkeman
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Has he done Algebra one yet already? Why don't you send him to College to do Algebra one based physics.
It sounds like he is in the US, and you can take Community College classes while you are in high school, but I'm not sure that an algebra-based class would fit for him. In a year or two he should be able to take a Calculus-based physics class (either in high school or at a Community College).
 
  • #13
ISamson
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Simple concepts can be learned through good documentaries.
Pearson make quite interesting textbooks.
I think it would be a good idea for your son to read some non-fiction books on physics by famous authors like Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku and Ian Stewart.

I am currently reading them. Very insightful.
 
  • #14
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One problem Physics students often have with popular versions of physics books is that the author claims can’t be easily related to what’s learned in class and it causes a lot of pain to the student who thought they understood a topic conceptually.

Relativity is an especially problematic topic. We see that here where posters do gedanken experiments and ask questions that make no sense if you understand the backstory math, math that’s difficult to convey to them.
 
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  • #15
kith
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@jedishrfu: I would be interested in your opinion on Lewis Carroll Epstein's "Relativity Visualized". Do you know it?

I haven't read it yet but I really like his other book "Thinking Physics" which has already been mentioned above by berkeman.
 
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  • #16
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@jedishrfu: I would be interested in your opinion on Lewis Carroll Epstein's "Relativity Visualized". Do you know it?

I haven't read it yet but I really like his other book "Thinling Physics" which has already been mentioned above by berkeman.


No I’ve not seen the book. Has it helped you in your physics classes? Nowadays I’m thinking more of the string theory books where the math is beyond a layman’s understanding and so analogies are used but a student of the subject will struggle to see how the analogy fits with the math creating a long period of confusion.
 
  • #17
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What about this book ?
Hugh D Young_ Roger A Freedman_ Albert Lewis Ford-Sears and Zemansky's university physics _ with modern physics
 
  • #18
Dr Transport
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I think that i a calculus based text, I would suspect it is too advanced for a middle schooler
 
  • #19
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After trying to learn computer science and numerical methods . This is what i have learned from my past experiences .

Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition - Alan Turing
 
  • #20
kith
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No I’ve not seen the book. Has it helped you in your physics classes?
No, I just happen to like his other books and thought that maybe you know it, because you were commenting about relativity without math.
 

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