How Things Work 1

An introduction to physics in the context of everyday objects.

About The Course

Designed for non-science students, this course is a practical introduction to physics and science in everyday life. It considers objects from the world around us, identifying and exploring the scientific concepts upon which they're based. Because it starts with objects and looks within them for science, it is the reverse of a traditional physics class. Instead of the usual principle-driven physics class, How Things Work is case-study physics.

In this pilot semester of How Things Work, we will explore the basic laws of motion in the context of six familiar objects or activities: (1) Skating, (2) Falling Balls, (3) Ramps, (4) Seesaws, (5) Wheels, and (6) Bumper Cars. Despite their simplicity, these topics will bring us in contact with some of the most important concepts in physics, including inertia, energy, and momentum.

This course is self-paced. You can begin anytime and proceed at whatever speed you like. Although it typically takes about six weeks, you can finish it in three months or three days. With students ranging in age from 7 to 80+, there is little reason to follow a conventional academic schedule. This course should fit your lifestyle, not the other way around.

Subtitles are now available in more than 13 languages, with many translations prepared by volunteers from the course. Those translations are complete in Chinese and French, and nearly complete in German, Hebrew, Japanese, and Spanish. Other languages include: Arabic, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Urdu.

这些事情是如何运作的 1

Frequently Asked Questions

What must I do to earn a Statement of Accomplishment?
  • To earn a Statement of Accomplishment, you must achieve an average score of 50% on the six homework assignments. To earn a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction, you must achieve an average score of 80%. Note that you may take those assignments as many times as you like; only your highest scores contribute to that average.
Must I complete the Preliminary and Final Assessments to earn a Statement of Accomplishment?
  • No. Those assessments are only for your own information, to see just how much you learned while taking this course.
Will I find this class interesting, enjoyable, and valuable if I am not a college student?
  • Yes. this class is truly for everyone. Previous students have ranged in age from 7 to 70+ and have come from all backgrounds and all walks of life. They have including college students, adult learners, professionals, retirees, grade-school children, home-schoolers, and even physics professors.
What background is expected for learners in this class?
  • None. The course starts at the beginning and provides a complete path toward a substantial understanding of the basics laws of motion. It is conceptual, rather than formulaic, and emphasizes understanding rather than memorization.
What resources will I need for this class?
  • Mostly a willingness to think. The material presented in the videos is all that's required to succeed in this class, however, I suggest that you obtain a copy of my textbook, How Things Work 5e, because the more ways in which you approach this material, the better you'll learn it.
I am not a native speaker of English. Are there translations?
  • Yes, the videos have subtitles in 13+ languages and many of the homework assignments have been translated as well. The initial translations were computer-generated, but volunteer translators have perfected the subtitles for many videos in many languages. You can even contribute to this translation project for languages that are still incomplete or additional languages that I haven't included yet. I'll work with you to make this class accessible to the whole world.

Recommended Background

No background is required; everyone is welcome, regardless of age or experience. This course starts at the beginning and provides a complete path toward a substantial understanding of the basics laws of motion. It is conceptual, rather than formulaic, and emphasizes understanding rather than memorization.