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Why don't they teach Quantum Physics in high school?

  1. Jun 30, 2013 #1
    Why don't they teach Quantum Physics in high school???

    Like I can't learn quantum physics in my high school and it really interests me but I have to learn all the stuff online :(
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2013 #2

    WannabeNewton

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    So self study it...
     
  4. Jun 30, 2013 #3
    I didn't even know QM existed until 2008, and I took compulsory Science until Year 11 (2001-2003). Not once was QM mentioned in those three years.
     
  5. Jun 30, 2013 #4
    Even a superficial look at quantum mechanics requires calculus and either linear algebra or differential equations depending on the approach. Have you completed calculus?
     
  6. Jun 30, 2013 #5

    QuantumCurt

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    Because it requires several years of physics, and a solid knowledge of calculus based physics, plus differential equations and linear algebra to really be able to understand quantum mechanics in any kind of formal sense.
     
  7. Jun 30, 2013 #6

    bhobba

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    Some do. But only at HS's with a curriculum advanced enough for you to know the required math which usually is only the case first or even second year university.

    Thanks
    Bill
     
  8. Jun 30, 2013 #7

    wukunlin

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    I knew about QM in high school through self study. I only really understood the hand wavy concepts. It gets too dangerously close to crackpottery imo without rigorous mathematical understanding.
     
  9. Jul 1, 2013 #8

    WannabeNewton

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    I don't see the issue with self-studying the prerequisite mathematics and then self-studying the subject proper, considering you're in HS. I didn't do that for QM but I did do that for GR and I had a lot of fun with it (and still do of course!).
     
  10. Jul 1, 2013 #9

    robphy

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    I think a high-school class can be developed around Feynman's approach, as presented in his QED.

    A few years ago, I taught aspects of QM and SR to non-science majors at a liberal arts college.
    I wanted to develop graphical methods that yielded simple quantitative results that displayed those aspects.
    For the QM part, I used Feynman's QED... and designed activities that had students obtain the law of reflection and of refraction using the imaginary "quantum stopwatch" (See, e.g., http://www.aip.org/cip/pdf/vol_12/iss_2/190_1.pdf [Broken] and http://www.eftaylor.com/quantum.html )... with the eventual goal of using computer software to handle the tedious details. (The grand scheme for followup courses would be continue this line of thinking to get to the fancier "standard" stuff requiring linear algebra and differential equations.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. Jul 1, 2013 #10

    ZapperZ

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    You can learn ABOUT quantum mechanics in high school, but you won't be able to learn it until you have mastered the mathematics required.

    Zz.
     
  12. Jul 1, 2013 #11

    mfb

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    Even if it stays a bit hand-wavy, I think it is very useful to get some idea about QM.

    Here in Germany, it is a usually taught in physics in the "Oberstufe" (at the age of ~17-19). At that point, derivatives are known, but differential equations are solved like "let's see if that is a solution. Oh, surprise, it is!". Potential wells and interference can be studied, energy levels of the hydrogen atom are looked at (without deriving them), and similar things.
     
  13. Jul 1, 2013 #12

    HayleySarg

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    I think part of it, from another viewpoint, is that there simply isn't the funding. It's hard enough for schools to offer physics at all (Many do it every other year). The idea of offering yet another science course, that very few students would be able to handle, is probably just out of reach.

    The sad reality of an "okay" system, is that it's not without it's flaws.
     
  14. Jul 1, 2013 #13

    bhobba

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    Sigh - true.

    When I did HS here in Australia virtually everyone did:

    English
    Math A
    Math B (combined together about the equivalent of US Calculus BC)
    Physics (a litte bit of handwavey QM was done)
    Chemistry
    Biology or Technical Drawing depending if you wanted to do Engineering or the biological sciences at university. Nearly everyone did Medicine, Science, Math or Engineering - Arts etc were not as popular.

    Now it's all changed - hardly anyone wants to do the hard stuff like Math, Science and Engineering. Sad. Of course Medicine has vastly more takers than places.

    Thanks
    Bill
     
  15. Jul 1, 2013 #14
    Why is it useful to get some idea about QM?
     
  16. Jul 1, 2013 #15

    bhobba

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    It builds intuition for when you encounter it at a deeper level. Its like the hand-wavey presentation of calculus you get at the start - you build intuition for when you do it properly in your epsilonics. Even if you never do more advanced calculus knowledge of it is good background - same with QM.

    Thanks
    Bill
     
  17. Jul 1, 2013 #16

    QuantumCurt

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    I really like the term "hand wavy quantum mechanics." That just brings to mind some crazy scientists with long hair flying all over the place, waving his hands around and ranting about how crazy quantum mechanics is.
     
  18. Jul 1, 2013 #17

    HayleySarg

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    They tried to make us watch "What the bleep do we know?" and I *accidentally* kicked the cord out from the projector. The sub was HOPELESS to figure it out. I convince her the light blew in the projector.

    For science. If I ever have to endure any of that crackpottery again, I'll rampage.
     
  19. Jul 1, 2013 #18

    Vanadium 50

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    To squeeze in more than hand-wavy quantum mechanics takes time out of other topics in the syllabus, and those other topics provide the foundation for QM. Even colleges don't try and squeeze in serious QM into a year-long intro course.
     
  20. Jul 1, 2013 #19

    WannabeNewton

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    See if there are colleges around you that offer summer programs or year long weekend programs for high school students which include QM. MIT's MITES program has physics 1-3 and calc 1-3 although I don't think it has a dedicated QM course; needless to say MITES has a competitive application process. IIRC Columbia has physics and math classes for high school students as well. Regardless, if you have enough interest in the subject then self-studying it in HS won't hurt you. The bare minimum mathematics for QM is easy mathematics (calc 1-3, ODES, LA). You don't have to go all out.
     
  21. Jul 1, 2013 #20

    bhobba

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    Watched a bit of that on you-tube - will watch it all later but the bit I saw was this QM is magic rubbish. I cringe at anyone forced to endure crap like that.

    At HS you need to learn it in a way similar to what Feynman did:


    Beyond that you really don't have the required math at HS - unfortunately - unless you go to a very advanced HS.

    Thanks
    Bill
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
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