What is the format of the course?
50% of the course is offered as recorded video lectures. (Each half-hour concentrated recorded lecture requires more than 15 hours of work in designing, writing, drawing, recording experimental demos, creating animations, recording audio narratives, video editing, and video & audio synthesizing. Not a single moment is wasted in the recorded videos. )
One main lecture is posted every Friday evening.
Another lecture video for assignment solutions and review is posted every two weeks on Friday.
50% of the course is offered as interactive online lectures, once every two weeks, For example, Sunday morning (PST 11:00-12:30. EST 2:00-3:30).
Every week the students will follow the lecture guidance to conduct research, performing hands-on experimental assignments, critical thinking assignments, and SAT II practice problems.
You can watch the videos at your choice of time. It is convenient to have such flexibility. However, once falling behind it is hard to catch up. So, please be disciplined to keep up with the pace so that you can understand the live interactive lectures.
There are multiple sessions in the whole series covering the entire spectrum of general physics. “Thermal physics", "Optics”, "Mechanics", and “Electromagnetism”.
“Thermal physics" and "Optics” are offered in Fall 2020.
What is the learning objective and prerequisites?
Course objectives for Sessions of Thermal Physics and Optics:
1. Students will systematically study and deeply UNDERSTAND general physics, in the field of thermal physics and optics, at SAT II physics level and AP1-and-AP2’s level,
2. Students will build up habits and acquire abilities in observing natural phenomena in daily lives, designing and performing research experiments, asking original and creative questions, and solving problems independently.
3. Students will be capable of answering SAT II physics questions (both conceptual and calculation ones) in the related fields.
4. Students will develop comprehensive knowledge in heat-and- light related concepts and phenomena and be well-prepared to apply that knowledge in biology and chemistry studies.
Prerequisites for Thermal physics and Optics:
No physics background is needed.
Basic pre-algebra skills are needed.
One can start as early as Grade-6 to allow enough years for a complete "leaning through inquiry" process for thermal physic, optics, mechanics, and electromagnetism. That will build a solid foundation for all your natural-science AP courses.
This way, you will have plenty of time to prepare for physics competition, if interested.
To start this series in Grade-9 still allows enough time to finish the entire series before the end of Grade-10, hence still very helpful for SAT II, and AP physics. One may be able to skip AP1 or even AP2 and jump to APC after taking these courses.
Where can I submit questions and homework?
Homework will be submitted online through course website.
Questions can be submitted online through the course website or easier to assess google forms.
More detailed instructions will be sent via email.
Can I review my previous sessions?
Videos are available for a year.
If online interactive meetings are missed, recordings can be provided.
What are special about these courses?
Learn through inquiry
Allow enough time and focus on the active learning process.
Hands-on experiments and guided research projects.
Real-world problem-solving and applications.
Comprehensive content and systematic training in critical thinking.
Interesting and attractive to inspire curiosity
The instructor designed this course for her own kids and her friends' kids to address the following problems:
1. In the USA, Physics is not officially taught until very late in high school (after Biology and Chemistry), while many countries offer 5-6 years of physics before college. Physics is the foundation of all science and engineering subjects and is related to every aspect of our daily lives. Curious kids need to learn more conceptual physics earlier in order to understand nature and prepare for other science courses.
2. Physics is not an easy subject. Without appropriate preparation, high school students taking AP physics often find physics difficult and end up memorizing equations and gambling about which equation to use without actually understanding the physics laws. Even for pre-Med exams, students often complain that physics is the hardest topic. Some systematic and serious conceptual study in physics is necessary before AP physics courses.
3. Physics needs to be taught in an easy-to-digest way by offering the students enough active learning experiences so that students can actually understand “why and how” for each topic. Before reading the textbook conclusions, engaging in well-designed hands-on experimental assignments and step-by-step reasoning questions allows the students to explore and find the answers about “why and how” on their own.
4. Physics is fun. Physics is useful. Physics is everywhere. Physics makes sense everywhere. Many kids don’t get enough chances to realize those, hence their passion and confidence are far below where their potential might be able to reach.
What are the teaching strategies of the courses?
1. This course series offers a systematic preparation for SAT II level physics and the conceptual part of AP Physics. Every new topic is built on the previous ones in a logical order to provide a comprehensive picture of physics.
2. Every lecture has particular experimental assignments and well-designed critical thinking questions to guide the students through a journey of observation, question, hypothesis, experiment, and analysis, before reaching a conclusion; so that students would find “why and how” on their own, with a deep understanding that is not easy to forget.
3. Instead of stuffing students’ minds with textbook conclusions and facts, active learning experiences, including experiments and independent reasoning processes, are emphasized throughout the entire course. Most of the assignments are open-end questions.
4. Conceptual understanding and real-life applications of physics laws are emphasized in every lecture, together with some calculation problems to prepare for the SAT level exam.
5. Students are encouraged to always ask questions during the courses. All kinds of questions are welcome. The instructor has a passion to interact with curious kids and is very experienced in dealing with questions on various scopes. Instead of providing a short answer, the instructor often extends one question to more questions to dig deeper and inspire more independent thinking.
6. The instructor is a current college physics professor with 10+ years of experience in teaching general physics. She runs an active photonics research lab and has strong publication records. She also does scientific writing and outreach activities on frontier physics topics, targeting a general public who has little physics background. Frontier physics breakthroughs would be lively integrated into these courses. For example, the science behind the first black-hole image in 2019 and every year’s Physics Nobel Prize can be explained to the students at the right level. Direct interactions with a research-active physics professor can greatly inspire kids’ interests and broaden their vision.