Science enthusiast wanting to accelerate my learning

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frost_zero
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[Mentor Note -- Thread moved from the New Member Introductions forum]

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I am a middle school student and have a deep passion for physics, I want to understand quantum mechanics and relativity. Physics according to me is the most precise description of nature which we currently have, with mathematics being the language of that description. Einstein mastered calculus by 15, I want to do it by 14. However with school being so slow at teaching, I learn things mostly online (mainly through khan academy and ocw), if you know any good learning resource other than those then please do tell me

Thanks
frost_zero
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Melbourne Guy
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Hi @frost_zero, this welcome to PF comes to you from Down Under 👍 Have you discussed your aspiration to learn maths / physics at an accelerated rate with your teachers? They may be able to provide additional material, or even introduce you to like minded physicists who can mentor you. And if there is a university nearby, reaching out for guidance from their physics department may also be useful.

In terms of online learning, there is a lot of great content...but there is a lot of dud content, too, so asking for suggestions is a sensible idea! In terms of online courses, The University of the People has a summary of free learning sites, I note that Khan is there, but you may find other courses to consider.
 
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  • #4
frost_zero
15
16
Hi @frost_zero, this welcome to PF comes to you from Down Under 👍 Have you discussed your aspiration to learn maths / physics at an accelerated rate with your teachers? They may be able to provide additional material, or even introduce you to like minded physicists who can mentor you. And if there is a university nearby, reaching out for guidance from their physics department may also be useful.

In terms of online learning, there is a lot of great content...but there is a lot of dud content, too, so asking for suggestions is a sensible idea! In terms of online courses, The University of the People has a summary of free learning sites, I note that Khan is there, but you may find other courses to consider.
I appreciate your advice but When I ask them anything even remotely out of syllabus they say either "you will learn it in higher classes" or answer it with confusing words which don't actually clear anything, though I would try to reach out for guidance. And I am aware that doing just from khan academy will not be sufficient which is why after completing the course there I will solve books on the those topics for more practice and further knowledge.
 
  • #6
Melbourne Guy
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I appreciate your advice but When I ask them anything even remotely out of syllabus they say either "you will learn it in higher classes" or answer it with confusing words which don't actually clear anything, though I would try to reach out for guidance.
@frost_zero, this is obviously a difficult position to be in, and that you will be frustrated is understandable. Is there a trusted adult you can included in these conversations who can translate the 'confusing words'? Experts can find it difficult to forgo the jargon and speak in simple, accessible language, is that what you feel is happening? Or do you feel they are being condescending and dismissing you? Either way, an adult who can observe and intercede might direct the conversation to a more satisfying conclusion.

With the "learn it in higher classes", that is a reasonable response. However, asking for an accelerated pathway to those 'higher classes' seems fair to ask. Again, a trusted adult might be able to assist with this conversation.

Essentially, you are looking for your teachers to write down, in detail, how you can learn math and physics faster than normal. So, specific classes, specific tests / exams, specific experiments. This might require more than one teacher in the session, as you're looking to span multiple years at school, but it is not an unreasonable request. Though, it is likely an unusual request, so there could be resistance because it requires something out of the ordinary.

I'm assuming you are excelling in your current year, if so, perhaps you can ask permission to join the next year up math / physics classes? Your teachers may ask you for commitments, hurdles you have to jump to show you are willing and able to accelerate your learning. That is reasonable, and I presume you are prepared for this.

In summary, my advice comes down to two things:
  1. Despite how frustrating and annoying the situation is, keep your cool. This is unfair, but put that aside as much as possible. No matter how old we are, if we behave like children, we get treated like children! But you are a child, so I know this is a big ask 😉

  2. You need an adult champion. Someone to be on your side and talk, adult to adult, with the teachers who seem to be stonewalling your progress.
Honestly, it is a HUGE challenge to learn math and physics 'on the side'. You should continue to undertake the online learning, but ideally, you are wrapped up in a community that wants to see you succeed, and takes every step possible to make that happen.

Best of luck, @frost_zero, I hope your passion and excitement is rewarded 👍
 
  • #7
frost_zero
15
16
@frost_zero, this is obviously a difficult position to be in, and that you will be frustrated is understandable. Is there a trusted adult you can included in these conversations who can translate the 'confusing words'? Experts can find it difficult to forgo the jargon and speak in simple, accessible language, is that what you feel is happening? Or do you feel they are being condescending and dismissing you? Either way, an adult who can observe and intercede might direct the conversation to a more satisfying conclusion.

With the "learn it in higher classes", that is a reasonable response. However, asking for an accelerated pathway to those 'higher classes' seems fair to ask. Again, a trusted adult might be able to assist with this conversation.

Essentially, you are looking for your teachers to write down, in detail, how you can learn math and physics faster than normal. So, specific classes, specific tests / exams, specific experiments. This might require more than one teacher in the session, as you're looking to span multiple years at school, but it is not an unreasonable request. Though, it is likely an unusual request, so there could be resistance because it requires something out of the ordinary.

I'm assuming you are excelling in your current year, if so, perhaps you can ask permission to join the next year up math / physics classes? Your teachers may ask you for commitments, hurdles you have to jump to show you are willing and able to accelerate your learning. That is reasonable, and I presume you are prepared for this.

In summary, my advice comes down to two things:
  1. Despite how frustrating and annoying the situation is, keep your cool. This is unfair, but put that aside as much as possible. No matter how old we are, if we behave like children, we get treated like children! But you are a child, so I know this is a big ask 😉

  2. You need an adult champion. Someone to be on your side and talk, adult to adult, with the teachers who seem to be stonewalling your progress.
Honestly, it is a HUGE challenge to learn math and physics 'on the side'. You should continue to undertake the online learning, but ideally, you are wrapped up in a community that wants to see you succeed, and takes every step possible to make that happen.

Best of luck, @frost_zero, I hope your passion and excitement is rewarded 👍
thanks! I will try my best
 
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  • #8
Falgun
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I appreciate your advice but When I ask them anything even remotely out of syllabus they say either "you will learn it in higher classes" or answer it with confusing words which don't actually clear anything, though I would try to reach out for guidance.
I was in the same place as you are now. I started learning physics and maths at the side when I was roughly your age. The point is to take charge of your own education. Don't fall into the trap of "I'll probably learn this in higher classes so what's the point in doing it now" .

I started out by getting the maths textbooks of the grades above me and systematically reading through them and solving each problem. This might be a bit boring but it helps to establish a great precalculus background.

Then I went through the MIT OCW scholar courses on single variable calculus (18.01SC) and multivariable calculus (18.02SC) though you can delay the second one for later when you study electromagnetism.

Online resources are very good but they can't substitute for books. You'll have to get used to reading books somewhere down the line. You can buy a second hand copy of any decent college text.Then I picked up a second hand copy of "Physics" by Resnick, Halliday and Krane 5th edition. It's a thick 2 vol set of books which covers the first year syllabus of a physics major. It has a chapter on Special relativity and near the end of this book is a very basic introduction to Quantum mechanics. Newer editions are very dumbed down and are a lot more expensive.

Also SOLVE PROBLEMS, this is the only way to learn physics. It is very easy to fool yourself into thinking you've understood something.

It took me about 1.5 years to do this but time shouldn't be a problem for you. The one thing you'll require the most is PATIENCE. Only after you understand the basics can you get to the more interesting stuff.

Another thing, don't try to rush through the topics. Take as much time to learn as you need. Don't pressure yourself.


Just my two cents.
Good luck!
 
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  • #9
frost_zero
15
16
I started out by getting the maths textbooks of the grades above me and systematically reading through them and solving each problem. This might be a bit boring but it helps to establish a great precalculus background.
Yup, doing that, I have solved the maths and physics of class 10th which involves trignometry and other basic concepts but from 11th it gets really hard, with many college level topics; still I would have to have patience and do it consistently just like you said

thanks
 
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  • #10
paralleltransport
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I did something similar when I was your age too. I just allocated extra time on the weekend to work on more advanced materials.

One important thing that I realized however is it's not the quantity of material you absorb that matters but the quality of understanding.

At your age, building solid logical foundation in math will serve you very far. For that I recommend not only challenging yourself by learning more advanced math (trigonometry etc...) as you are doing but also seeking harder problems for things you think you already understood. There is a very large amount of problem solving materials now available online and online communities for math and physics at your grade. Try them out (Art of Problem Solving for example).
 
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  • #11
valenumr
464
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Yup, doing that, I have solved the maths and physics of class 10th which involves trignometry and other basic concepts but from 11th it gets really hard, with many college level topics; still I would have to have patience and do it consistently just like you said

thanks
I took calc 1 as a junior in high school, which was very odd, but also fortunate that the course was available. My school arranged for a special one on one session for calc 2 education. Perhaps, if you continue to excel in such topics you can arrange something similar.
 

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