Gas station without pumps

2011 June 27

Conceptual Physics text needed

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Conceptual Physics textbook cover

The Conceptual Physics book that we have looks like this image from an Amazon customer, but without the "media update" banner.

My son is planning to take AP Physics next year, but he has never had a really solid physical science course, just done some reading on his own, so he and I agreed that it would be a good thing for him to read a light-weight physics book over the summer to make sure he was well prepared—the rest of the class will have had a prior physics course. Since it has been over 40 years since I had any physics (and that a high school course that was lower than AP level), I agreed to read the book along with him.

We had a textbook that is used locally by several of the better schools, and that I had heard recommendations for: Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt.  We settled on a 10-page-a-day reading schedule and started in.

This week, my son gave up in disgust at the snail’s pace of the book—and I can’t really blame him.  Ideas that need a paragraph or a page are stretched out to fill a chapter.  It may be a gentle introduction for people who love to have things said very, very slowly, but it was putting us to sleep.

Can anyone recommend a better way to get an intro to physics at a livelier pace?

We’ll look into Lewin’s MIT lectures, but neither of us have been big fans of video lectures, most of which are even slower paced than textbooks.  (We’ve not looked at Lewin’s lectures yet, which have a reputation for having good demos, which could compensate for them being videos.)

Note: my son has not had a formal introduction to calculus yet, though he has had some of the basics for several years, so we are not looking for a standard college text, but a quick way to fill in any holes in his self-education, so that he is ready to do AP Physics without much effort.

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