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What should I be doing in the summer in between HS years?

  1. Oct 28, 2012 #1
    I'm a sophomore in HS and am planing to go into nuclear or astrophysics. I am wondering what I should be doing in preparation for going into these fields?

    I am in honors chemistry and honors trig/pre-calc (with 98% in both classes) this year and will be taking AP Calc and physics next year. Should I be taking any extra classes over the summer that could help prepare me for junior year?

    I am also looking at some summer camps such as Astronomy Camp at Kitt Peak observatory and the Physics of Atomic Nuclei program at Michigan State univeristy. Are these good programs, any other programs I should consider ? I am also starting to work on a farnsworth fusor.

    Any other things I should do?

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2012 #2


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    Gold Member

    Is your college funding all set?

    If not I would suggest finding a steady paying job so that you can save for your education. If you have a wealthy benefactor, that's great, but I had to work all summer every summer to afford college.
  4. Oct 28, 2012 #3
    My parents have said that they will pay undergrad and grad was up to me. I am planing to get a part time job also.
  5. Oct 28, 2012 #4
    Why take classes? When I was in high school (or the equivalent in my country) I found a used copy of University Physics by Young and Freedman at my school library. I borrowed it over the summer and studied it. Of course it depends on your learning style.

    In your situation, I would recommend spending your summer intensively studying calculus (maybe even multivariable) to be ready for the physics. Learning the necessary math before you learn the physics should drastically improve your rate of learning and progress.
  6. Oct 28, 2012 #5
    I should have been more clear in the original post. It was my intention to pick up some used textbooks and use those, not attend actual classes.

    Thanks for the suggestion.
  7. Oct 28, 2012 #6
    Don't forget to relax too so you don't burnout.
  8. Oct 28, 2012 #7
  9. Oct 28, 2012 #8
    I'd recommend you enjoy your last free summer if you can!
  10. Oct 30, 2012 #9
    Thanks for that suggestion, I will definitely look into that. I also found the quarknet internship at Fermilab. Any idea if that is a good one to look into?

  11. Oct 30, 2012 #10
    I have also read that I should learn to program. Is there a specific language I should learn? I know very basic Python and we are learning Ruby and Ruby on Rails in IT class.
  12. Oct 31, 2012 #11
    It is better to focus on programming techniques than on language syntax. It is easy to learn the necessary language syntax as it is needed. :)

    The programming you will be doing is mainly numerical computing. You basically need to know calculus before you can learn it properly. It mainly concerns numerical solutions of (ordinary or partial) differential equations, simulations of dynamical systems and related techniques. You will probably also learn some numerical analysis to carry out error analysis.
    If you want to be prepared, I think your best choice is to focus on learning calculus and linear algebra.
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