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Name: Donna
Status: student
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Question:
I am looking for good physics reference books for my daughter. My daughter (14 years old) is a 9th grade student who is taking Honors Physics. The class does not provide any textbooks only teacher handouts. She is new to the school so does not have the benefit a having learned from the science department and also knowing what resources are available to her. Her physics teacher has been teaching for 30 plus years and is a very qualified instructor, however my daughter is often not able to understand what he is saying and since there is no textbook provided she cannot go home and teach it to herself later. To compound the problem, we (her parents) are NOT scientists or mathematicians, therefore we are unable to help her in anyway. She wants to succeed in this class and is willing to work extra to do so, she just needs some tools to help her. I tried scouring the Internet to find a good physics reference book, but I'm not able to tell if it is adequate. I do not know who to consult.



Replies:
Paul Hewitt Conceptual Physics 10th edition.
This will give a conceptual background that will help in establishing a foundation for the math. It is readable and written as an introductory text.

Robert Karplus Introductory Physics: A Model Approach 2nd edition 2003
Excellent background and builds scientific models extremely well. It does not have the math rigor listed in the syllabus.

William Kelly and Thomas Miner Physics for High School 1967
Traditional text. Helps some students. Algebra based.

Randall Knight, Brian Jones, and Stuart Field College Physics, A Strategic Approach. 2007
This is a very readable text and is superb at scientific model building. The student workbook is also worthwhile. The math assumes some trigonometry. Most honors high school students find this readable and the chapter end problems within easy reach (the sample pool is juniors and seniors, not high school freshman). Up to date relative to physics education research.

Eric Rogers Physics for the Inquiring Mind 1960
Superb algebra based text. This is a classic.

http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/phys.html

http://cwx.prenhall.com/bookbind/pubbooks/wilson/

Most of these texts have some errors, particularly in energy, but should still serve as outstanding support. There are many mediocre texts and a few poor texts out there. Perhaps asking your library for the above books on Interlibrary Loan will give you an idea of what will work for your daughter, and then selecting one to buy.

It looks like a very ambitious syllabus for a standard year long, 300 minute per week, course.

---Nathan A. Unterman



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