I’ve been hearing a bit about the Matter & Interactions physics text, mainly from blog posts by Quantum Progress (My favorite texts: Matter and Interactions, Following long chains of reasoning, How to get rid of AP (part 3): what can replace it, Teaching computational thinking part 3).
The book’s web site claims that it
emphasizes a modern perspective on the calculus-based introductory physics curriculum taken by engineering and science students. It engages students in:
- Starting analyses from fundamental principles rather than from secondary formulas.
- Making macro-micro connections, based on the atomic nature of matter.
- Modeling physical systems: making idealizations, simplifying assumptions, estimates.
- Constructing computational models to predict the time evolution of system behavior.
20th century physics and a contemporary perspective are integrated throughout the curriculum.
I’m wondering whether I should have my son read this book, as it sounds like a better fit for him than the usual rather shallow high-school physics books. Is there anyone reading this blog who has taught from the book? Or evaluated it and rejected it for teaching? What are its real strengths and weaknesses?
I should probably read it myself, as I haven’t had physics since my non-calculus physics class in 1969–70. It’s amazing how little physics you really need to do computer science, digital music synthesis, digital electronics, VLSI design, computer engineering, and bioinformatics. It’s even more amazing how little benefit engineering students are getting out of over a year of physics—still unable to understand simple ideas like thermal resistance and how to calculate substrate temperatures of integrated circuits, even when handed the formulas and explanations.