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Second semester physics and third semester calc

  1. Apr 24, 2009 #1
    Right now, I'm taking the first semester of a 3 semester set of calculus-based physics, and the 2nd semester of calculus. Since I go to a community college, my options are limited as far as classroom times and dates to take some of these slightly more advanced classes. There is likely only going to be one "Physics 2" class running, and two or three options to take "Calc 3."

    The only option for Calc 3 that works for me is an online section.

    According to the college, here are the descriptions of the topics covered in each class.

    Math 253:

    "Covers the major topics of third semester Calculus, including functions of several variables, differentiation and integration, vectors, vector fields, parameterization, Green's Theorem, and applications. "

    Physics 251:

    "Includes electricity and magnetism, kinetic theory, thermodynamics, thermal energy and heat transfer"

    So, my question is twofold:

    1) Will those topics covered in Physics 251 require the topics learned in Math 253? Will there be some overlap, and therefore is it beneficial to take them at the same time?

    2) Are the topics in Math 253 overly-difficult to grasp in an online-only course? Or are they sufficiently difficult that an in-person class would be recommended?

    I know it may depend on my personal ability... Right now, I'm taking Calc 2 online, and I've only got a high B. I'd probably rather be taking it in a class instead of online, but my schedule didn't really permit it. As far as physics goes, I've easily got the highest grade in the (small) class at the moment... to the point that people are wishing I'd drop out, so the professor may curve. I've got the only A in the class for now.

    Given the information I've provided, would you guys recommend I take Calc 3 online so I can take it at the same time as Physics 2? Or would it be more beneficial to wait until next semester when I may be able to take Calc 3 in a classroom setting?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2009 #2
    Physics 2 almost certainly wont need multivariate calculus so it wont benefit you to be taking Calc 3 at the same time.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2009
  4. Apr 24, 2009 #3


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    If you plan on going into a science major, you might want to look into doing an online course that covers more topics. Compare the list of topics for distance calc 3 at LSU:
    * Functions of Several Variables and Limits and Continuity
    * Partial Derivatives
    * Tangent Planes, Linear Approximations, and the Chain Rule
    * Directional Derivatives and the Gradient Vector
    * Maximum and Minimum Values
    * Lagrange Multipliers
    * Double Integrals over Rectangles and Integrated Integrals
    * Double Integrals over General Regions and Double Integrals in Plane Coordinates
    * Applications of Double Integrals and Surface Area
    * Triple Integrals
    * Triple Integrals in Cylindrical and Spherical Coordinates
    * Vector Fields and Line Integrals
    * The Fundamental Theorem for Line Integrals and Green's Theorem
    * Curl and Divergence
    * Parametric Surfaces and Their Areas
    * Surface Integrals
    * Stokes' Theorem and the Divergence Theorem.

    I'm sure there are many other universities that offer similar distance classes.
    Personally, my Phys. 1&2 class used multivariable/vector calculus all the time. However, this may not be everyone's experience.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  5. Apr 25, 2009 #4
    My Phys 1 class used a little bit of vector addition and multiplication. Dot product, cross product... that's about as far as we went.

    Fall '10, I'm transferring to a "real" university, so I'm wondering if it makes sense to hold off until then. But, that's a over a year away.

    I'll say, community college is great for gen ed classes, but there just aren't enough people taking the 200 level classes.
  6. Apr 25, 2009 #5


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    Gold Member

    I had to repeat physics with a calculus based curriculum (my country has a horrible physics program). I did calculus 3 simultaneously with physics 1, and now I am 1 day away from completing physics 2. We only used multivariable calculus once in physics 2, and even for that the professor explained what was happening.

    I would not stress taking calc3 with physics 2, too much.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2009
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