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.