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Studying For Physics at Home

Tuesday 21st, April 2020

Olivia Widjaja

With the current situation, it might be difficult to stay motivated. Specifically, studying for physics at home may be a difficult task, especially since this subject has numerous practical components. That’s why I’ve written this article outlining my advice on how to study for physics while at home.

Keeping your mind stimulated

One thing that is great about studying at home is that you have flexibility. However, this could also be a double-edged sword. A day without structure could result in procrastination. As a result, it’s important to make sure your mind is constantly stimulated. Even though you don’t feel like studying, active procrastination is key in being productive at home. This could be as simple as watching a Neil deGrasse Tyson documentary on space travel or a spacecraft launch to the International Space Station. While these activities aren’t completely productive, it allows you to learn new pieces of information. This makes it easier for you to ease into studying since these sorts of activities already put you in the mood of learning.

Catching up on content

School can sometimes be overwhelming since they go through content at a fast pace. As a result, studying at home can be a great opportunity for you to start catching up with the content. The best way for you to start is to go through all the handouts your teacher has distributed in conjunction with the syllabus. This allows you to mark which sections you have not learnt and which sections you struggle with. If your teacher has not given any handouts, you can use other resources such as the Notes section on ATAR Notes (HSC Physics/QCE Physics/VCE Physics). While these notes are often summaries, it gives you a good indication on what pieces of information are relevant. From there, you can build on the basic pieces of information and do some research to add any information needed to help you understand the topic.

Focus on your weakest topics

This may be a difficult thing to do when studying at home, especially since your teachers are no longer as accessible as before. By identifying which topics you need help with, this would make consultation with your teacher would be easier since they can prepare relevant resources for you. Even if you are not able to get in contact with your teacher, there are plenty of free online resources available on YouTube such as ATAR Notes videos (HSC Physics/QCE Physics/VCE Physics), Khan Academy, The Organic Chemistry Tutor and Michel van Biezen.

Use simulation softwares to replace experiments

Unfortunately, conducting experiments would be something difficult to imitate at home, especially since lab equipment is often expensive. As a result, simulation softwares can be pretty handy. Even in university we’ve turned to using softwares to replace labs. As a result, I have compiled a list of simulation softwares you can use. Keep in mind that you should not be paying for simulation softwares. Honestly, they’re not worth buying for personal use.

Falstad: This is a great, simple simulation software for circuits. It’s not too complicated, but it’s powerful enough to tell you the direction of the current, or the power absorbed or released.
TinkerCAD: This is another great simulation software for circuits. The difference between TinkerCAD and Falstad is that TinkerCAD actually involves equipment in a laboratory, so they have power supplies, oscilloscopes and function generators. You’re basically building circuits on a breadboard, which is great for visualising circuits.
PhET: This is a website created by the University of Colorado Boulder. Not only do they have simulations for physics, but for all science subjects. They offer simulations for different experiments such as Hooke’s Law, projectile motion and electromagnetic fields.

Don’t forget to take a break!

One of the challenges in working from home is that the boundary between work and home becomes blurred. As a result, a work-life balance may be a bit difficult to maintain. Whether you’re someone who struggles to maintain self-discipline and start working, or if you’re the complete opposite, the Pomodoro technique is a great way in keeping you disciplined to make sure you’re spending the right amount of time studying or taking a break. I’ve written an article on some great study apps you can use to make sure you’re following the Pomodoro technique.

Another way for you to take a break is to pick up a passion project. This is great for someone who likes to stay productive since it allows you to put yourself in a new environment. Something as simple as learning to code can help you give yourself a break. Also, don’t forget to exercise! Something as simple as a 10 minute stretch from your desk is good enough so you don’t end up with a sore waist and a bad back!

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