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Teaching science sequentially from scratch

  1. Aug 28, 2010 #1
    I unfortunately know very little about science. The good news is that I have recently become very interested in it.

    Ok so, if we could pretend like I am an alien from another universe unlike ours, how would you suggest to begin studying? If you had to start over how would you learn it? Or maybe the best approach to this would be how would you teach your kids?

    Would you start with
    1)the properties of the universe? gravity? light?
    3)our bodies?

    I really want to gain an intuitive understanding of how it all works, so any tips on HOW you study would also be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2010 #2
    This is a little hard to gauge. Most people have very specific interests, not just 'science'. If you were an alien, I would recommend you study biology first, because if we were talking to you, you'd be most interested in the most unique thing we humans have to offer: ourselves.

    But as for you, I never took a course in biology. I never found biology anything more than vaguely intriguing. It's all up to you, mate. Which of these do you find most interesting: physics, chemistry, biology, geology, implementation (I.E. engineering), ecology, zoology..?

    Typically, curricula are created in high school to correspond to the recipient's most likely math level. Thus, biology starts first, because you rarely need to quantify anything. Then chemistry, which needs a little algebra 1 and a bit of algebra 2. Then physics, which is very heavily math oriented.
  4. Aug 28, 2010 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    If you don't know much math (little or no algebra, and no trigonometry), I suggest getting a textbook that is intended for a "descriptive physics" course, such as this one:

    Conceptual Physics, by Paul Hewitt

    Many U.S. colleges and universities use this book for courses for students who are not science majors. So do many high schools, for their non-AP courses.

    If you don't want to pay that much money for a new copy of the latest edition, you can probably find a cheap used copy of an earlier edition. The physics is pretty much the same regardless of the edition. Most of the changes between editions are basically to force students taking courses to buy new copies from the publisher instead of used copies from previous users.
  5. Aug 29, 2010 #4
    Thanks so much that is great help Angry Citizen and jtbell.

    I think that is great advice to study what interests you, but the problem is that I am equally interested in all of it. It is not practical but it is the truth. I would like just like to be able to go for a walk, look around, and understand everything that is happening around me, that's all.

    So the consensus is to study maths simultaneously, i think that is wise.

    Biology / algebra 1 and a bit of algebra 2 (so will be ready for chem)
    Chemistry / more algebra and trig (so will be ready for physics)
    Physics /

    I mean, I wonder how people like Einstein studied, I think he was mostly self taught. (If any one has a rec on the best Einstein bio that would help).

    I would like to avoid rote memorization as much as possible and shoot for deep intuitive learning. I very much like the Sidis method mentioned on their website.

    Ok here is what confuses/bothers me - science is about not relying on dogma. But, I mean at some point, you have to just take the textbook's word for it, no? I can't go around splitting atoms, but I guess I should do as much home experimentation as I can.

    Do you guys just read text books? What else do you do to help you learn?
  6. Aug 29, 2010 #5
    The particulate nature of matter probably.
  7. Aug 29, 2010 #6
    Well, I try to get an historical context whenever possible. Like with the non-quantum model of the atom, I looked at the Rutherford experiment to see how they determined it. Quite ingenious, actually.
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