Why should my children learn physics? Is a question I hear often from parents. There are many reasons why physics can make the lives of students more fulfilling and interesting. Physics, unlike some other areas of science can (for the most part) be studied as a homeschool science course with lots of hands on labs. I hope to convince you that physics could be the doorway that will lead your children to a more exciting future.
- The universe is a fascinating place; your children should get to know about it.Have you ever heard about things like the Big Bang Theory (the theory and not the TV show) or black holes, wormholes, absolute zero, the relevance of the speed of light or Einstein’s famous energy equation? If so then you are already familiar with physics, but studying physics helps students understand fundamentals of what we already know about the universe. Physics is the science that is the foundation of chemistry and biology, and can help develop more understanding for both sciences.
- Critical thinking is a large part of physics and problem solving helps to develop critical thinking. From deciding which route would be the better one to take on a road trip to choosing your bread at the grocery store to making life and death decisions as a pilot traveling faster than sound all require critical thinking skills. Physics is not just about memorizing facts, but involves problem solving, analytical thinking, pattern matching, cause and effect, logical reasoning and use of deductive and inductive reasoning.
- Physics helps students improve their mathematics skills. Depending on the level of physics that your child is at, physics will help them improve their general number skills, algebra, trigonometry, geometry and calculus. Mathematics is the language of physics and plays a big role in understanding, but students who take up the challenge of physics tend to also do well in math.
- Physics students test better in standardized tests. Largely because of the previous answer, students who are intending to take any standardized test tend to do better if they have a background in physics. If your son or daughter is intending to take the MCAT, SAT, GRE, LSAT or any other standardized test, studying physics can help improve their score.
- Physics labs are really fun.
If your homeschoolers like building things, taking things apart, seeing how things work and playing with toys, then you will love physics labs. As a physics teacher my job involves playing with toys like Nerf guns, poppers, marbles, Lego, lasers, magnets, electricity and water (although not at the same time). Throwing eggs off of high places and keeping them intact, racing things down hill, making simple rockets or bottle rockets are all fun physics labs.
- You and your children will get more of the jokes on the Big Bang Theory TV Show. Believe it or not, CBS has an in house physicist that writes up all of Sheldon and Leonard’s white boards so that they are authentic.Although they are well beyond high school physics level, many of the topics that they discuss are covered. We talk about things such as particle accelerators, the big bang theory, black holes, Einstein’s theory of relativity and other fascinating subjects that they discuss in this TV show.
- If your kids are interested in repairing things, tinkering, modding or hacking anything, then it is likely that knowledge of one or more areas of physics is likely to help. Just understanding the physics of a wrench can help. In fact there is a whole community of hackers, modders and tinkerers that mod everything from cars to iPods.
- Many jobs look for students of physics, partly for the critical thinking skills, partly for physics specific skills. Things like engineering, any science, medicine, aviation, geology, electronics, programming (and other computer based jobs), the military and of course Physics research are all fields where students of physics thrive.
- Physics is used in the development of every aspect of our life. Developing grocery bags that keep your food cool, signaling to the TV that you want to change channel, heating up your food in the microwave, knowing where you are with your GPS and at least a dozen technologies tied up in your cell phone.
- Physics is challenging and rewarding. Why do people climb Everest when they could climb a hill in their local park? Because it is an achievement. Physics is tough for most, but there are abundant rewards. If you feel that your children aren’t being challenged, then physics may be for them.
Now that I have you convinced that physics is the subject for you, you’re likely to tell me that you don’t have the equipment to do physics labs or something like that. In my next blog posting, I will give you some insight into creating fun and free labs that you can make in your own home with things you probably have lying around. In the mean time, perhaps your homeschool student may find these articles and activities challenging:
- How to weigh a Black Hole.
- Does opening a car window affect drag?
- Coach Cowland’s homeschool santa challenge (and solution).