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Physics During Summer: Yes or No?

  1. May 9, 2010 #1
    Hello there physics Forums, how are you all today?

    I am currently an Electrical Engineering student at my University. I have just finished the first portion of the Physics series (Calculus based Newtonian Physics) I absolutely hated the course, mechanics is definitely not my field but overall i took what i felt i needed (forces and diagrams etc.) I am scheduled to start summer school this coming Monday. I will be taking a programming class and a second class. I was originally going to take the Calculus based Statistics course but i changed my mind. I saw an open spot for Physics II (E&M) and I took it (class is full now).. But i am a bit worried that i might be cheated on some information due to the fact that it is a summer course.. But then again when I think about it.. I have much more time to study and dive into the subject during summer since i'm not as busy.. I was also contemplating on taking Statics for that second class slot.. I am not sure as to what to do, what am I getting into here.. Can anybody give me their honest opinion? I would really appreciate any responses.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. jcsd
  3. May 9, 2010 #2
    E&M is a difficult course, and taking it during the summer would make it more difficult. If you can do it, go for it.
  4. May 9, 2010 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    On the other hand, you'll be going at a much faster pace. Here, summer school courses run for six weeks versus fifteen weeks during a regular term. A class like intro physics meets for about 1.5 hours lecture every day, five days a week, and there are three labs per week.

    For me, its always taken a certain amount of time, not purely class time or study time, for physical concepts to sink in. I think my brain assimilates things partly in the background while I'm doing other things or sleeping. I can't handle a very fast pace like that. But people are different, and you may be able to do it.

    Also consider that most students find E&M to be harder than mechanics, because it's more abstract.
  5. May 9, 2010 #4
    Wow that's a pretty brutal session, my school does it for "Summer C" It takes up twelve weeks, how does that compare?
  6. May 9, 2010 #5
    Thats nothing, my schools summer school type thing for physics is 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, 3 hours of lectures accompained by 3 hours of lab and it is also only 6 weeks long
  7. May 9, 2010 #6
    Now i think that's a bit unrealistic.. That is extremely rushed.. I'm glad they offer SS physics for 12 weeks here.. Definitely manageable!
  8. May 9, 2010 #7
    Yeah its pretty harsh...which is why I don't want to drop anything and pick it up again in the summer
  9. May 9, 2010 #8


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'd better clarify that when we do physics in summer school, it's six weeks each for Physics I (mechanics) and Physics 2 (E&M), or twelve weeks for both.
  10. May 10, 2010 #9
    How much math do you have? Even though E&M normally only requires calc I or calc II, I'd recommend having calc III beforehand. You'll definitely have the upper hand when you do simplified line integrals and such. (E&M is only hard because students do not comprehend the math being used while trying to apply it to abstract physics)
  11. May 11, 2010 #10
    I think we might be scaring this person unneccessarily. He is talking about General Physics 2 E&M and not full blown E&M. It has been a while, but I don't remember much vector calculus in Halliday and Resnick, for example.

    But the more advanced E&M I took? I HAD Calc III beforehand, but that didn't help THAT much with all the PDE's.
  12. May 11, 2010 #11
    I know you can do that class without calc III (and that's also why I labeled them "simplified line integrals") but you have to admit that understanding the concepts of calc III would have made intro to E&M much, much easier!
  13. May 11, 2010 #12
    In general, the more math background you have, the easier it is to see the Physics. If you don't count HS Physics, and I don't, I was taking Calc III at the same time as I was taking General Physics 2 (which unfortunately was Algebra based). Knowing the math the book was afraid to talk about and the teacher was struggling to avoid made the class pretty easy, but a pretty simplified treatment.

    E&M a few years later though was a different kettle of fish. The class kinda had an identity crisis. They didn't have a Physics major program, so it was Math and Chemistry majors who took the few upper level Physics classes offered. The Prof tried to get as real as he we could stand in a one semester class, but while the textbook was a standard one, we were certainly unable to finish it in only one semester.

    After that I actually TAed a Summer (Calc based) General Physics class. So much easier to handle and so much more realistic if you are not afraid to show an integral sign.
  14. May 11, 2010 #13
    Hahaha, no guys not the actual physics major E&M.. As stated originally, i am only an EE major, the only class up to that tier that i will take will be Electromagnetic Fields. And that will be a different story.. I've decided to take the class due to the quality of the teacher offering it as opposed to the quality of the teachers offering it during fall.. It's very important for me to understand all of the concepts in this class, and even though it might be cut 4 weeks short of of a regular school semester, i will take it. Our school's physics dept lacks decent teachers.. For example my Physics I class was too much online based.. Homework.. Lectures (on Wednesdays) i hated it.. That's why i do so much better in my math classes.. No laptops, no cellphones no nothing, if you're caught you are kicked out of the classroom. Just blackboard and notebook. I love that style! I wish all of my classes were like that.. I oppose all of that technology, honestly. Also with the issue of Calculus vs algebra based physics.. It really doesn't matter much for Physics one but it's a different story for Physics II.. How would you integrate a Gaussian surface? LOL, i'm glad i am forced to take the Calculus based. :) Feels good man.
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