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Trying to grasp physics in the 8th grade.

  1. Feb 15, 2012 #1
    I am an eighth grader who is interested in hopefully pursuing a career in physics. I currently have a 100 in Algebra 1 but I want to learn more. I always read about the famous scientists such as Newton and Hawking. I feel as if I am capable of learning more then what we are learning in school now, but I have no idea where to start. What math should I learn first to understand physics better?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2012 #2
    "What math should I learn first to understand physics better"

    Well mastering Algebra and Trigonometry and Logarithms would be the way to start, if you have any sort of texts which cover these topics I would definitely recommend you learn these by heart. After, you feel you have mastered these you should then wrap your head around the fundamental higher mathematics of Calculus, but you need to know Algebra, Trig and so forth well before you will be any good at Calculus. One of my fave books on Algebra, Trig and Geometry would be Euclid's The Elements. Which if you are having trouble doing equations and factoring over and over again, may be a more enlightening and inspiring read.

    By the way good on you for trying to grasp Physics in the 8th grade, I didn't get any interest in it until Grade 11, though I had always been fascinated with the workings of meteorology. Hope this helps. :)
  4. Feb 15, 2012 #3
    Something you might want to check out is khanacademy.com

    Aside from the videos and examples that are fantastic for anything below calculus I there is a little section there that shows a map of what topics you should learn and in what order. It will also help you know what you need to know to learn a specific thing. If you sign on to that site, and then click the "practice" button it will take you to what I am talking about. It's a good way to chart your progression and allow you to work ahead of your Algebra I class should you desire.
  5. Feb 16, 2012 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    Just one word - Calculus. I taught myself calculus in 9th grade at 13 - but where I lived we started school in year 1 at 5 years of age so was probably a year ahead of you. Here is a great introductory book:

    I do not think its too early - again where I lived we had a special advanced class where people were taught calculus year 10.

    Then IMHO there is one textbook that is a must - The Feynman Lectures On Physics:

    With just a smattering of Calculus each read will be more enlightening and enjoyable than the last.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Feb 16, 2012 #5
    Some of these recommendations look a bit tough for a 12 year old who has just mastered algebra 1. Euclid's The Elements is a great suggestion. Try this version:


    The great philosopher/mathematician Bertrand Russell read this at about your age. If you get stuck reading it then talk to your parents or teachers about it - or ask here. It's an absolutely key text, no other could be more important to read at your age.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Feb 16, 2012 #6
    Wow, I can't believe that people here are recommending the OP to read a calculus book or the Feynman lectures. Reading these texts without much experience could do much more harm than good. One should only attempt calculus if he is really ready for it, and algebra I is not really being ready.

    I pretty much agree with the recommendation to check khan academy. Be sure to buy an appropriate textbook and make lots of exercises. There are many good interesting textbooks out there. Lang's "basic mathematics" or Allendoerfer's "principles of mathematics" are good reads (but probably too advanced for now).

    Reading the elements is a very very very good idea. It will really enhance your math experience. The elements has been the number one math text for centuries. People only considered themselves "educated" if they read the text. So reading it is not a bad idea at all. After that, you might want to read on coordinate geometry (the book "geometry" by Lang is good. Yes, I like Lang's books).
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