Accelerated Studies in Physics and Chemistry

Accelerated Studies in Physics and Chemistry

by John D. Mays
Publisher: Novare
Hardcover, 451 pages
Price: $86.95

Because John Mays is virulently opposed to stuffing all students through the same hole, he offers Accelerated Studies in Physics and Chemistry as an alternative to Introductory Physics. Accelerated Studies expects students to have already completed Algebra I, and to be taking Geometry concurrently. Mays sees this book as a sort of honors course for motivated and capable students, ideally those who intend to pursue further study and potentially a career in science, math, or technology.

Physics is covered not simply as an end in itself, but as a gateway to studying chemistry and biology. Ideas like those of scientific notation, heat transfer, energy, atomic structure, and much more are mastered before moving on to fields of study that require familiarity with them beforehand; this way, concepts can be reinforced later, rather than introduced out of context for the first time. Also, more advanced physics can be covered later, rather than either dumping everything on students at once, or only giving them a rudimentary understanding.

Mays's philosophy is that high school students should be treated as on their way to adulthood and not pandered to with cute chickens and bunny rabbit cartoons. This means the content of Accelerated Studies is challenging, and requires students to focus, study hard, and be organized. Each chapter begins with learning objectives, and continues with crisp narrative prose that integrates history, philosophy, math, and of course science. What each chapter does not contain is anything unnecessary or merely "fun."

There are 14 chapters, what Mays understands to be the essential topics for an introductory physics/chemistry course, and together they form a book of 338 pages. This means the text is manageable—Mays employs a mastery approach, which is within reach given that there isn't a lot of extraneous material. He also relies strongly on mathematics in this volume, showing students the equations that form the basis of fundamental scientific theories and proofs, and providing exercises for students to complete themselves.

Because this book was designed for use in a Christian school classroom, it is probably not ideal for homeschool use unless you or someone you know has a background in physics and math. Students may need help, even assiduous students, and if you don't know the content well yourself, it's unlikely you'll be able to offer much help. Still, if your student loves math and science and you feel competent to guide them, it's hard for us to imagine a better introductory physics option for high school students intent on a science- or math-based career.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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