Saved by a great interactive book!
We (8th, 10th, and mom that missed HS physics) have been using physicsclassroom since the fall. We started with another program, one I paid $400 for a one year subscription, before getting so frustrated that we needed to find another option. We really like the physicsclassroom iBooks, they are well put together and have all the material in order (readings, graphics, interactives, and questions). They are easy to read and have activities to help you understand. Each new idea is explained at least 2 times, using new words and different examples. There are videos for visual learners and problems at the end of each section to test your understanding. You can get more off the website like labs to do, but the books seem to contain all the information that you would need.
I like the creator of these iBooks and website. It is obvious that he works with kids and understands how they think. The author anticipates how the kids will approach new ideas and talks to them about those pitfalls. My boys enjoy his humor and feel like learning physics is work but very doable.
The problems to check understanding have full answers, explaining how the instructor got his answer, so you can check where you went wrong. There have been couple (very few) questions with the wrong answer but when we look at his solutions we see that we did it correctly, he just multiplied by the wrong decimal or something small, at the end. We are not left feeling like we do not understand or can’t figure this physics stuff out. (This was a major problem in the other program. I tried to explain the frustration to the other program, their response was to see looking for mistakes as a challenge. When you do not know the material and are unsure if you did it correctly, you have no idea if you made a mistake or found one, eeeeek!) Also, he asks the same question in different ways so you can try again and see if your understanding has improved.
A comment about the math. We are homeschoolers and considered ourselves unschoolers. We did not participate in a formal math program until 6th/7th grade. We tried a couple of things: Khan Academy, Aleks, and Fred. The only one that the boys enjoyed was Fred. If you have seen Fred, you know it is not your typical math book. The math is given in time through a story. Even though our math has not developed in the usual school way, we are able to keep up. I did take calculus eons ago but can’t remember much because I did not use it in my life, yet we can follow along and do the calculations.
I think it would be a nice addition to have labs in the iBooks, I’m not the greatest at matching a lab to the material. You can find plenty of labs at the website, physics classroom.com, so do not worry, I just want them in the iBooks.
Overall, the only big disappointment is that Tom Henderson has not had time to make all the physics sections into iBooks!
Better than a textbook
I am so happy the Physics Classroom site is moving onto the iPad! As an instructor, the site was invaluable for explanations, animations, concept checks, worksheets, reviews, and more. Now with my school getting iPads for the kids, these downloadable books could be used as a great reference and study guide.
Hopefully, the remaining subjects will become available soon. I will buy every one. Perhaps a collection could be discounted for mass purchases by schools in the future. I really want all my kids to have these.