Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Physics 101 (Homeschool Review)

cover of Physics 101 DVD set 

Are you looking for a fun way to tackle high school science courses? The 101 Series offers video based courses in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, with a General Science scheduled to come out soon. I received the Physics 101 course to review and it has been a hit in our home!

The core of Physics 101 is the video instruction. 20 videos, each ranging from 20 to 40 minutes long make up the primary “textbook” for the course. For some students—those who want to use the videos as a supplement to another course or students who are younger than high school age—the video content will be sufficient. For high school students who want to use Physics 101 as a complete high school course, the DVD set includes two additional pdf resources.

The Guidebook is a 106 page resource that includes a 2-4 page summary of the content for each video, discussion questions, and a quiz. The Accreditation booklet pulls everything together, with schedules and assignments for video, research, labs, and quizzes. The schedule even includes space to document the required 120-180 hours to earn a full credit. While completing the course, students do a significant amount of research and write reports on their findings. The videos demonstrate each of the labs and the students are then expected to perform the labs on their own as well.

Physics 101 is divided into 7 topics, with 1-4 lessons within each topic. I think that you could complete the topics in any order, although lessons within the topic should be watched in sequence. Topics include:

  • Light
  • Sound
  • Heat
  • Electricity
  • Motion
  • Physics of the Weird
  • The Future of Physics

The 101 Series is a family enterprise. The concepts are all taught by Wes Olson, a filmmaker, science buff, and homeschool dad. Filming is done by family members. You would never peg this as an amateur production, though. The videos are top quality, professional films. Video lectures by Wes Olson, animations, experiment demonstrations, and photos combine to clearly explain and illustrate complex concepts.


How did we use Physics 101?

Emily watched a video, read through the corresponding summary pages in the Guidebook and took the quiz orally. She aced all the quizzes, which tells me that the material was taught well. She tried out a couple of the experiments, but hasn’t done any of the online activities or research reports yet, since at this point we’re using Physics 101 as a supplement instead of a full curriculum.

Our thoughts:

Emily loved this series. Seriously, this is an actual quote, “Physics makes me smile. I love physics!”  My original intention was to complete a small portion of the course this year, then to save the rest for next year, but since she keeps asking to watch more videos, I now expect that we will finish it this year!

I think that Physics 101 is ideal for an average student who wants a non-math based physics course. We’ve watched 6 of the 20 videos so far and find the teaching clear and solid. The concepts are related to their usefulness in daily life, answering questions such as “How does electricity get to our homes?” and “Why does light pass through some materials and not others?” Because the experiments are all demonstrated on the videos, students who choose to skip performing some or all of the labs will still get to see the results. All the experiments that we watched, however, were fairly simple. While this made them easy to do with household objects, they seemed more like middle school level labs. I would prefer that the labs be explained in the written course materials as well as demonstrated on the videos. It was sometimes difficult to remember exactly how a lab was done after viewing it one time and having written instructions would be more convenient than having to find and re-watch the lab on the video.The additional research activities in the Accreditation Booklet are helpful for building Physics 101 into a more solid course. This course would be easy for a student to study on his or her own without a lot of parental guidance other than grading or looking over the research reports.

We plan to have Emily do a more intense math-based physics course next year since she is strong in math, but will definitely use this video series as a supplement (if she doesn’t finish watching them all this year.)

The Physics 101 Guidebook includes summaries of each video segment that are work well for review or as a study aid.



The schedule in the Accreditation Booklet suggests additional activities and research assignments and provides a easy way to document study time.


The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed all three of these courses, so be sure to hop over to the Crew blog to learn more!

Physics 101
Chemistry 101
Biology 101

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
Crew Disclaimer

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