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My exposure to physics has been bad, and I want to relearn

  1. Feb 21, 2015 #1
    Hello, my name is Alex. I am a senior who wants to pursue either a degree in chemical engineering or in aerospace engineering. I love math and sciences like chemistry, but my tenure with physics has been dismal at best. My physics teacher is very bad at teaching, and I just think that he doesn't possess the social skills to get his point towards my class. If you don't believe me, out of the 10 AP students that took the AP Physics test last year, noone got over a 3 on the test. And he is being 'watched' by a former teacher for the rest of the year due to criticism coming from the students down to our administration.

    Anyways, I am terrible at physics, and I know I need to be great for my majors. Can anybody reccomend me a site (perhaps even an online course) that can take me all the way from general physics towards optics and E&M? I've come to the realization that my teacher can no longer help me, so I would like to take matters into my own hands before college starts. Thanks! Nice to meet you all!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2015 #2
    Welcome to PF, you're at the right place!
  4. Apr 12, 2015 #3
    First, NEVER GIVE UP YOUR DREAM! EVER!! No matter how bad the teacher, there is always something to learn from them. Start by researching the material you think is questionable. Follow up by asking questions about disputed topics or remarks. I have had two teachers who did not know why their remarks were wrong and would not acknowledge the errors. I did myself no good by countering their errors in class. Try to be so educated about the topic that you can actually HELP the teacher improve. Visit with them outside of hearing of other students and let them know you are trying to support them by clarifying the material. If their cultural mentality prohibits them accepting your input, leave the conversation with one person better for it, YOU.
  5. Apr 19, 2015 #4

    Quantum Defect

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    Your experience sounds like the one that I had in high school. You might look into taking a college-level course over the summer at your local Community College, but this could very well be a crap-shoot, as far as finding a gifted teacher. I did this for introductory biology, when I could not fit the HS course into my schedule. I had a good instructor at the community college, and I felt like I got as good an introduction as I would have gotten with the very good biology instructor at my high school.

    Or, just wait until you get into college. I had excellent physics teachers at my university, and my bad experience in high school no longer seems significant. In college, you will be in classes with people who have had similar experinces to yours (no physics or poorly-taught physics) as well as people who had excellent physics classes in high school. Things might be a bit harder for you in the beginning, compared with the ones who had good teachers in the past, but things tend to level out after the first few months -- at least that was my experience.

    Work hard, talk to people (professors and classmates) when you don't understand things, and help your classmates when they don't understand things. It seems to me that most of learning physics is learning to discipline your thinking to think like a physicist -- start from first principles, and beat all of the common misconceptions out of your head. The other thing that is absoultely necessary is developing the mathematical skills that are required to do "real" physics. You do not have these skills from high school math, but you will get this in university and beyond. I do not think most people get very much beyond a very minimal understanding of physics with the one year of physics typically taught in US high schools.
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