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Conceptual Physics/Physical Science Resources for Middle School


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Hello,

 

I am researching Physics and Chemistry resources for 7th grade next year. Initially I thought Chemistry would be harder to find resources for this age group. But I'm discoveing just the opposite with many great Chem options for younger kids such as:

* DK Eyewitness Books: Chemistry

* McHenry's The Elements

* McHenry's Carbon Chemistry

* Chemistry 101

 

However for Physics I'm not finding quite as much. Paul Hewitt's Conceptual Physics and Conceptual Physical Science texts seem to be popular options. Yet they are possibly geared toward an older High School audience. So I'm curious who has used these texts or other 'Conceptual' science based resources during the middle school years?

 

I did find the free Holt Physical Science text to be a good general resource. Though I'm exploring other options.

 

One more that looks very interesting is How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life

 

Thanks for sharing your input and experiences,

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I probably shouldn't be replying since we outsourced physical science to our local middle school! Dd is in a great class with way more labs and activities than I would ever plan. But I wanted to mention that when they have reading, they use the ck-12 physical science text on iPads--it's free and you can download it for yourself. I don't think that is what makes her class great, but it's one possible source to use. We did the McHenry chem courses in 5th grade and loved them--good stuff. Here's the ck-12 link:

 

http://www.ck12.org/book/CK-12-Physical-Science-Concepts-For-Middle-School/r11/

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One more that looks very interesting is How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life

 

I read this book at Palo Alto Main Library. I recommend you borrow through Link plus (inter library loan). The book "How everything works" by the same author is worth borrowing too. Either book makes a nice middle school textbook. See which one you like. The author's work webpage

http://www.phys.virginia.edu/People/personal.asp?UID=lab3e

 

ETA:

Amusement park physics with a NASA twist middle school http://www.bemidjistate.edu/academics/departments/science/k12-science-units/Amusement-park-physics-NASA-middle-school.pdf

Physics simulations for middle school

http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/physics

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A few more for you to explore:

 

I have read good reviews here for Physical Science: Concepts in Action (Pearson). Kolbe Academy uses this text for 8th grade, although it looks like the 2006 edition is called for. Sample lesson plan here.

 

 

Eureka Science Videos

 

CPO Science Skill and Practice Sheets stand alone just fine without the CPO textbook.

 

Joy Hakim the Story of Science w/ the Quest guides.

 

The World of Physics by Tiner. Tiner's books have some religion in them, but I see that you have Chemistry 101 on your list.

 

 

 

I will use at least part of the Conceptual Physics text simply because I happen to own it. I am just now sure how yet. Here is its mega list of resources from the HS board.

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However for Physics I'm not finding quite as much. Paul Hewitt's Conceptual Physics and Conceptual Physical Science texts seem to be popular options. Yet they are possibly geared toward an older High School audience. So I'm curious who has used these texts or other 'Conceptual' science based resources during the middle school years?

 

I have used parts of Conceptual Physics and Conceptual Physical Science with DS in 6th and 7th grade, and it worked find for us. There is some minimal math in Conceptual Physics, but a student who had prealgebra should do fine. For high school, those are very light options that are often used for students who strugggle with math.

 

ETA: I just see that your student is currently using AoPS Intro to Algebra. If he made it through the first 3 chapters, he will have enough math to be fine with Conceptual Physics!

 

One more that looks very interesting is How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life

 

I was going to suggest the Bloomfield book, too. I have used this as well with DS.

Bloomfield currently has a Coursera course based on his book.

 

If your student is interested in particle physics, I can recommend the series by Fred Bortz: Library of Subatomic Particles.

http://fredbortz.com/booksby.htm#MGYA

 

Do not be deceived; on first glance the books look like hardcover picture books for younger kids, but they are rather complex with lots of information and suitable for strong readers of upper middle school grades.

 

You might want to check out this course:

https://www.udacity.com/course/ph100

It suggests the stduent has some basic understanding of algebra.

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Wow, you guys are awesome! Thank you for so much helpful information in addition to new resources which I haven't seen. This is great stuff! I'm sure other parents will benefit from it as well.

 

After reviewing over the Rainbow Science text I purchased primarily for labs I really wanted something with a bit more depth for this age group.

 

Based on this list I will have plenty to explore now. Thanks again for sharing your experiences and ideas! :)

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I probably shouldn't be replying since we outsourced physical science to our local middle school! Dd is in a great class with way more labs and activities than I would ever plan. But I wanted to mention that when they have reading, they use the ck-12 physical science text on iPads--it's free and you can download it for yourself. I don't think that is what makes her class great, but it's one possible source to use. We did the McHenry chem courses in 5th grade and loved them--good stuff. Here's the ck-12 link:

 

http://www.ck12.org/...dle-School/r11/

 

 

Ali, not at all. This looks like a really great free middle school text. So thank you for replying. I'm curious how you outsourced this one subject to the local middle school. How did you discover this was something which would work for you and your dd, a friend or teacher working there prehaps?

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A few more for you to explore:

 

I have read good reviews here for Physical Science: Concepts in Action (Pearson). Kolbe Academy uses this text for 8th grade, although it looks like the 2006 edition is called for. Sample lesson plan here.

 

 

Eureka Science Videos

 

CPO Science Skill and Practice Sheets stand alone just fine without the CPO textbook.

 

Joy Hakim the Story of Science w/ the Quest guides.

 

The World of Physics by Tiner. Tiner's books have some religion in them, but I see that you have Chemistry 101 on your list.

 

 

 

I will use at least part of the Conceptual Physics text simply because I happen to own it. I am just now sure how yet. Here is its mega list of resources from the HS board.

 

 

Penguin, thank you. The Tiner books looked so good I ordered two last night - physics and chemistry. Typical I like to have a number of resources on hand whether I end up using all or parts of them. Though my wife would prefer I check them out from the library before going on a buying spree. But for the reasonable price of these texts I couldn't pass them up.

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I have used parts of Conceptual Physics and Conceptual Physical Science with DS in 6th and 7th grade, and it worked find for us. There is some minimal math in Conceptual Physics, but a student who had prealgebra should do fine. For high school, those are very light options that are often used for students who strugggle with math.

 

ETA: I just see that your student is currently using AoPS Intro to Algebra. If he made it through the first 3 chapters, he will have enough math to be fine with Conceptual Physics!

 

This is the kind of thing I was hoping to hear more about regarding the difficulty of these texts. So thank you, Regentrude. I know most STEM minded high school students want more than 'conceptual' physics. But it may be the perfect thing for an early introduction or possibly for non-STEM majors.

 

I was going to suggest the Bloomfield book, too. I have used this as well with DS.

Bloomfield currently has a Coursera course based on his book.

 

It turns out our libraby has this book. So I'll check it there first. But based on it's focus (How Things Work which my son loves) and the positive reviews I'll most likely purchase it. It's also good to know there is a course available. I'll look into that as well.

 

If your student is interested in particle physics, I can recommend the series by Fred Bortz: Library of Subatomic Particles.

http://fredbortz.com/booksby.htm#MGYA

 

Do not be deceived; on first glance the books look like hardcover picture books for younger kids, but they are rather complex with lots of information and suitable for strong readers of upper middle school grades.

 

You might want to check out this course:

https://www.udacity.com/course/ph100

It suggests the stduent has some basic understanding of algebra.

 

I'll definately take a look at these as well. Thank you.

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dereksurfs, glad you found something useful. I agree with you - I like to have multiple options on hand :) Especially since we don't have library access, it is a way to make him feel like he has some choices.

 

regentrude, I had never seen those Fred Bortz books - thank you!! I have just ordered four of them (Electron, Proton, Neutron and Photon - used). I think (hope) that my son will love these.

 

I found previews if anyone else is interested. Click on the individual book title for the preview.

 

Library of Subatomic Particles

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Ali, not at all. This looks like a really great free middle school text. So thank you for replying. I'm curious how you outsourced this one subject to the local middle school. How did you discover this was something which would work for you and your dd, a friend or teacher working there prehaps?

 

 

In Oregon, home schoolers can have their children attend elective classes in the public schools (not core classes which they define as language arts and math I believe, just electives). We've been planning to have our children attend our public high schools. As our friends' older kids began high school, I noted that those in sports transitioned easily as they already had a peer group where they fit in. My then 5th grader did not appear to be destined for sports so we decided to get her involved in band. She took band in 6th grade, and when I registered her, the registrar said many home schoolers also choose to do PE and science. I wasn't ready to lose that much time out of our day, but I kept it in mind. I had heard good things about the 7th grade physical science course and teacher (they do 140 labs or activities throughout the year) so we went ahead and enrolled her for band and science this year. She loves it and we've been impressed with what has been taught. The downside is that it does take a significant amount of time out of our school day--hard to get everything done! But I think it will make for an easier transition to high school for dd. She'll also get the science teacher recommendation to go into Biology as a freshman instead of the science concepts class they want most freshmen to take. I honestly don't know if they will hassle me at all when I try to get her into the honors level classes, but I thought this will provide an objective data point that she's a strong student academically.

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In Oregon, home schoolers can have their children attend elective classes in the public schools (not core classes which they define as language arts and math I believe, just electives). We've been planning to have our children attend our public high schools. As our friends' older kids began high school, I noted that those in sports transitioned easily as they already had a peer group where they fit in. My then 5th grader did not appear to be destined for sports so we decided to get her involved in band. She took band in 6th grade, and when I registered her, the registrar said many home schoolers also choose to do PE and science. I wasn't ready to lose that much time out of our day, but I kept it in mind. I had heard good things about the 7th grade physical science course and teacher (they do 140 labs or activities throughout the year) so we went ahead and enrolled her for band and science this year. She loves it and we've been impressed with what has been taught. The downside is that it does take a significant amount of time out of our school day--hard to get everything done! But I think it will make for an easier transition to high school for dd. She'll also get the science teacher recommendation to go into Biology as a freshman instead of the science concepts class they want most freshmen to take. I honestly don't know if they will hassle me at all when I try to get her into the honors level classes, but I thought this will provide an objective data point that she's a strong student academically.

 

Thanks for sharing your dd's story. It sounds like the science and band classes worked out well for her.

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lalalala plz stop suggesting more cool things

I don't need anything else. I have Conceptual Physical Science and the Practice Book and The Story of Science Bk1 and the Student's Quest Guide. I really, really don't need anything else. I see that I have said this twice, so why do I keep opening this thread? :D

Mandy

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I found a source for Physical Science experiments at my local library called "Experiments for Future Scientists - Physical Science Experiments". Contains 20 experiments geared toward middle school ages. I like that the expected finding are listed at the back, rather than right in or under the experiments so that students can do the tests without a preconceived idea of what "should" happen to influence them. There are 5 other books in the series as well; I want to get my hands on the one for Engineering Science experiments too.

http://www.amazon.com/Physical-Science-Experiments-Future-Scientists/dp/1604138556/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1369922905&sr=8-3&keywords=experiments+for+future+scientists

 

Kristin

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I just did this survey on another thread, and thought it might be helpful.

 

X-post

 

Well, you have definitely found a lot of resources. I did spend the time to evaluate most of them (although I don't want lots of junk mail so didn't register for everything.) Here are my impressions (hope not to offend anyone here, because I have only spent about 5 minutes on each, not the hours they deserve!)

 

 

Pearsons Concepts in Action (physical & chemistry) - this is the most academic. The concepts are the most advanced of the products listed here. It is a middle school text which means lots of busy sidebars and helpful study hints (or "helpful" study hints depending on your point of view.) The textbook is well written with nice relevance to students and nice history of science sections, although it is a bit dry to read. The labs are excellent and seem to mostly use easy to obtain objects, although a few speciality items are needed. There are problems to work, and graphs to make, which I like. My main complaint is that it does take a long time to explain what I don't think is all that hard, but this is pretty standard for middle school textbooks. Their main goal seems to be to get kids reading middle school textbooks, and the secondary goal is the content.

 

Oak Meadow Physical Science Oak Meadow is very conceptual, with no math that I could see. It seems to be written for the language arts type of kid. Nice stories and descriptions, and lots of writing your understanding down. I don't see problem sets or experiments built in. Excellent for kids scared of science, a bit basic for kids who general "get" science. So for a STEM kid, I would give it a pass.

 

Ellen McHenry Elements & Carbon Chemistry, - I have used The Elements and it is an excellent way to memorize a large part of the periodic table's importance, but it is definitely simple for middle school. (so about 2 weeks worth of content for an 8th grader, but more time in the memorizing portion.) I believe that carbon chemistry is for the older kids, and if it follows the same design as The Elements, I would expect it to also be excellent. However, these products are not textbooks and are more teacher led. Plus, it does not have all that many experiments built into the program.

 

The World of Chemistry by Tiner. This looks interesting although I could not actually view it. I think it would be a nice break from a textbook if you choose one. As one reviewer put it " I plan to use this book as the introduction to each chapter in my children's high school chemistry course." I think it is more history of chemistry, without a lot of technical detail.

 

Science Explorer - I have the physics set. It is simpler than Pearsons by a little bit, and I think the labs are a bit more canned. But still an acceptable text. Pearson puts them both out and they have VERY similar expressions, title bars, etc. But just to give you a feel for the difference, Science Explorer will write all the equations in words, whereas Pearsons Concepts in Action will write them with variables. I do have the same complaints about Science Explorer as I do about all middle school textbooks -- long winded for easy concepts and heavily focused on study skills. Really depends on what your student needs.

 

Aha!Science Middle School STEM - Well, anyone who needs so much rah rah about their product must be trying to sell me something. I could not get a straight answer and could not find easily accessible samples. They seemed to want me to talk to someone, which makes me think that they are selling me something. If your product is any good, I should be able to see it an evaluate it myself without a middle man. Please direct me to the sample, if I have just missed it.

 

CK-12 Physical Science-free - Ok, I will admit that this one really surprised me. It is really really good and very readable. It is not at all condescending and does not give you lots of "help" for studying, and it is not busy. It has nice questions at the bottom of each page. I'm not clear if it has any labs, as I could not open the "resources". I really like it.

 

ACS's free middle school chemistry.. - this product has generally been considered to be too simple for 8th grade by people who have reviewed it on this board

 

Inquiry In Action - this looks like an excellent, straightforward set of labs. So you have your chemistry labs premade! and free! I think if you choose to use a textbook that also has labs, you could simply compare the 2 resources and see which labs are more interesting to you or which ones you can easily get the materials for. Great resource.

 

Easy Peasy Physics/Chemistry this is very bitsy. A bit here, a bit there. I am concerned that all the little bits don't add up to a whole. It appears that all the resources are free, so even if you use CK-12 for the text and the videos and experiments from Easy Peasy, you would improve upon this product. I don't have time right now to go through an entire section to evaluate all the bits. I am also concerned that it takes quite a bit of organizing by the parent. I like handing my kids a book to read, I don't like "print this, then go to this website, then read this, etc" But if your kid focuses better when doing a bit of this and a bit of that, then perhaps this is the program for you. I also cannot tell the level of this product. It appears lower than 8th grade to me, especially for a STEM kid.

 

 

Two to add: I have heard good things about Conceptual Physics and Conceptual Chemistry from people (like Regentrude) whose opinions I trust. Your student would only have time to do one or the other; however, the material is covered well and without all the middle school nonsense (they are easy high school textbooks). Just something else for you to consider.

 

Ok, that is it for me. I do have a couple of opinions of what would be good for your student, but I will reserve it until I hear your opinion of what would work and *why*.

 

 

 

x-post #2. asking about one more text.

 

Hewitt's Conceptual Physical Science Explorations - I like this textbook very much. I think that it is much more readable than the other 2 textbooks, and equally readable to K12 online text. I really like the end of the chapter questions, they seem very thorough. I have been comparing all of these resources using the chapter on Motion, but unfortunately, this book's preview chapter is on the atom, so I can't make an exact comparison.

 

 

 

X-post #3 asking about comparing: Conceptual Integrated Science to Hewitt's Conceptual Physical Science Explorations

 

Here are the links to the views I am using.

 

http://www.pearsonhi...pter/index.html

 

http://instructors.c...21822758/part01

 

The integrated science textbook has taken the physics and chemistry chapters from the physical science book and taken out half of the material to make room for biology and earth science. Where the books overlap, the text is word for word identical as are the images/diagrams/graphs. (Start on page 214 on the second book and compare to the pdf chapter from the first book.) The problem with reducing the chemistry and physics chapters is that you don't ever get around to the advanced material in the integrated science book. They both cover the basics of chemistry and physics and then the integrated book does the basics of earth science and biology also, whereas the physical science book goes into the advanced material in chemistry and physics. This means that the integrated book is simpler than the physical science book. Given that this is for 8th grade, and these books are conceptual (so no math), I would suggest that you use the physical science book, and augment with The Way We Work if you want to cover anatomy.

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

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What a great thread! I wanted to start ds with Conceptual Physics but went the Coursera route with How Things Work instead. Ds likes the Bloomfield approach better because each chapter starts with a question that serves as a hook. We've stopped for awhile for ds to work on science writing (actually, any writing) and have gone back to Nebel's BFSU. We will cycle through the other sciences before going back to Bloomfield next year, in conjunction with the second Coursera course. In the meanwhile, I feed him with fun science reads. These are some of the books he likes in Physics. They're mostly written in a conversational style. The first 2 are his favourites although he loves the rest as well..

 

- Physics for Entertainment I and II, Yakov Perelman

- How to Teach Physics to your Dog, Chad Orzel

- The wormhole Adventures, PM Russell

- Touch this, Conceptual Physics for Everyone, Hewitt - This one got too difficult halfway. Will try it again later or when the phase strikes ds again.

- Instant Egghead Guide - Physics, Brian Clegg

 

Looking forward to checking out the other resources that have been posted. *rubbing hands in glee*

 

Eta: You have chemistry listed as well. Ds likes any book from Dr Joe Schwarz. I'm so glad I looked up the link on amazon. Evidently, there are a few of his other books ds doesn't own and would like to have pronto. Personally, I think some of the information seems outdated as some of these were written over 10 years ago. But how the doctor presents his thinking is appealing to ds.

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Many thanks to those of you who called attention to my Library of Subatomic Particles!

 

I have another book that definitely fits this topic. It won the 2002 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award for works for young readers (and other recognition).

 

See http://www.fredbortz...echnoMatter.htm

 

Also, my most recent book, also an award winner (though too soon for this year's AIP announcement--hoping) that is relevant to this theme, plus technology, Meltdown: The Nuclear Disaster in Japan and Our Energy Future.

 

I also have several other titles that may fit your needs. See http://www.fredbortz.com/booksby.htm

 

I also enjoy visiting middle schools, and my rates are competitive. See http://www.fredbortz.com/daywith.htm

 

My usual message to young readers applies to the readers of this page as well:

I hope you always follow your questions!

 

Scientifically yours,

"Dr. Fred" Bortz

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Derek, I have just gone through all the resources on this thread and organized this for my younger son for next year. I'm guessing you would use a more advanced textbook, but the rest of it might be helpful as it just organizes much of what has been posted here.

 

Physics

 

Texts

Forces and motion -- The Way Things Work

Sound and Light -- CK-12 online textbook

Electricity and Magnetism -- CK12 online textbook

Particle Physics -- The library of subatomic particles; Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland

Plus library books for all topics

 

Documentaries

The Way Things Work videos

Coursera's How Things Work

Cosmos http://www.cosmolear.../documentaries/

Eureka physics http://www.animateds...-physics-videos

Crash course http://www.youtube.c...urce=opensearch

udacity https://www.udacity.com/course/ph100

There are also some BBC docos but I can't remember their names

 

General reading

Physics for Entertainment (books 1 and 2)

How to teach physics to your dog

The worm hole adventures

 

Hands on

Electricity circuit board

Thames and Kosmos physics kit

Science Fair project - TBA

 

Simulations

phet http://phet.colorado...ategory/physics

 

 

That should keep us busy!

 

Ruth in NZ

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What a great thread! I wanted to start ds with Conceptual Physics but went the Coursera route with How Things Work instead. Ds likes the Bloomfield approach better because each chapter starts with a question that serves as a hook. We've stopped for awhile for ds to work on science writing (actually, any writing) and have gone back to Nebel's BFSU. We will cycle through the other sciences before going back to Bloomfield next year, in conjunction with the second Coursera course. In the meanwhile, I feed him with fun science reads. These are some of the books he likes in Physics. They're mostly written in a conversational style. The first 2 are his favourites although he loves the rest as well..

...

 

This course looks fantastic, Mukmuk. I notice the latest edition of Bloomfield's How Things Work is crazy expensive. Does anyone know if it matters if one uses an older edition? It seems like they are well rated. Are there many differences between these versions of the text? I am about to purchase one.

 

Thanks,

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Does anyone know if it matters if one uses an older edition? It seems like they are well rated. Are there many differences between these versions of the text? I am about to purchase one.

 

I don't know but a January 2013 course I found said the students can use any edition, 1st-4th, for the course. There is a course schedule for the book on the link.

http://people.virginia.edu/~ral5q/classes/phys606/spring13/syllabus.html

This link is for the lab manual of the book posted by the author. 142 pages.

http://www.howeverythingworks.org/instruction/demonstrations.pdf

 

 

 

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Ruth, DH is friends with the author of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog! I was so excited to see it mentioned under your post as a resource you use. Of course I forgot about this book and have never actually read it.

 

Mukmuk, I see you mentioned the same book!

 

I'm wondering now if I could read Orzel's book to DD and what kind of math is required. DH told me that he thought it would be too advanced for her.

 

This link seems to be the majority of the book, Conceptual Physics, 9th edition:

 

http://www.dsusd.k12.ca.us/users/phealy/physics/Ebook/htm/_cp9e.htm

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Just chiming in here with a brief review of Hewitt's Conceptual Physics. I've taught it to seventh graders twice now and am about to start my third go-round with my last seventh grader. It's an excellent book that really IMO covers the basics nicely without a lot of math. It has 40 chapters and covers Newtonian mechanics, waves (light and sound), electromagnetism, energy, rotational mechanics and a bit of 20th centruy physics. There is a lab manual that is good, though many of the experiments were impossible for us, as we do not have video equipment or some of the more sophisticated materials that would be required. However, there were many experiments we were able to do without needing to make significant purchases.

 

Both of my older boys, one in college and one in high school, have found the lessons they learned from Conceptual Physics were stilll useful to them later on, even in college level physics! The book does a wonderful job of laying a conceptual understanding for many basic physics principles. Love Paul Hewitt!

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I don't know but a January 2013 course I found said the students can use any edition, 1st-4th, for the course. There is a course schedule for the book on the link.

http://people.virgin...3/syllabus.html

This link is for the lab manual of the book posted by the author. 142 pages.

http://www.howeveryt...onstrations.pdf

 

 

Thanks, Arcadia. I'm going to pick up the a forth edition which I've found for ~ $12 vs. $120 for a new 5th edition.

 

Edit: I also found the answers to the 4th edition online here: http://www.chegg.com/homework-help/how-things-work-the-physics-of-everyday-life-4th-edition-solutions-9780470223994

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I'm going to pick up the a forth edition which I've found for ~ $12 vs. $120 for a new 5th edition.

 

Found this article on "High school physics textbooks Results from the 2008-09 nationwide survey of high school physics teachers" which might interest you if you are on the lookout for gently used textbooks.

http://www.aip.org/statistics/trends/reports/hstextbooks.pdf

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