homeschool student learning physics

Homeschooling Physics

Have you ever wondered why gymnasts bend their knees when landing from a jump? Why cars with airbags are safer than those without? Why Nike puts “air™” in their running shoes? How to win an egg-toss game at a family picnic? The answer to all of these questions can easily be found with a simple understanding of physics principles!

Physics: The Beauty and Complexity

Physics explains how God’s creation works physically. It is a beautiful way to come to a deeper understanding of the Mind of God. It builds on one’s understanding of biology & chemistry and can be learned with or without a deep understanding of mathematics. That’s not to say it is easy, per se. It can sometimes be mind-bending. For instance, did you know that boiling is a cooling process?  Here’s another: wet sand is firmer and easier to walk on a beach than dry sand. Why? This is because water between sand grains creates surface tension that holds the grains together more firmly.

Mind-Bending Concepts

If you really want to stretch your brains, learn a bit about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, where things like the passing of time and distances traveled through space depend on how fast you are moving. So, an hour is not always an hour in physics! Did you know that if two twins are into space travel and one twin travels into space at near-light speed and then returns, they will be younger than the twin who stayed on Earth?! This is called time dilation, where time slows down for the traveling twin relative to the one on Earth.

Practical Applications of Physics

Physics also has many practical examples that apply to our daily lives. On any given day, the water in your swimming pool stays cooler than the air (or ground) around it. Why is that? Physics explains why we used to “pump the brakes” when trying to stop a car on snowy or icy roads… and why anti-lock brakes were invented. Physics explains how two children of varying weights can have fun together on a see-saw—without one being stuck in the air the whole time!  Physics explains how your washing machine gets all the water out of the clean clothing during the spin cycle.

Dual Enrollment Option

You can build an understanding of physics principles by taking Homeschool Connections Physics (with lab) or College Prep Physics. Physics (with lab) is a conceptual approach that requires only an understanding of basic algebra and geometry principles. It is an introductory course and suitable for all high school students. College Prep Physics goes deeper into mathematics. It is a rigorous, algebra-based physics class that goes at a fairly fast pace. It is a great preparation for college-level science classes. And this year, we are excited to announce a new partnership with Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS)!  Students who register for Homeschool Connections’ College Prep Physics have the opportunity to earn 3 credit hours from FUS for a very low cost!

Meet the Instructor

The course instructor, Mr. Tom Frederick, has taught physics for over 30 years! He has a way of infusing humor and practical examples into learning physics to make it phun! Mr. Frederick is a father of seven children between the ages of 6 and 22 years old. He is a former public school high school physics and mathematics teacher, cross-country running coach, and Director of Youth Ministry. He enjoys reading, gardening, fixing things, standing up for Catholic principles, and studying the Bible in his spare time. However, one of his favorite things to do is watch the light bulb go on in a student’s head when a new physics principle is understood for the first time!

Real-World Applications of Physics Principles

So, are you still wondering about the answers to the questions this article leads off with? Simple! The Impulse-Momentum theorem states that when a force is applied over a period of time, the body experiencing the force has a change of momentum. Momentum is always conserved. As a result of these physics principles, we know that increasing the time of impact will decrease the force of impact. So, airbags allow you to slow down at a slower rate (increasing the time), and putting air in the soles of running shoes cushions each impact by increasing the time. Finally, gymnasts bend their knees on landing in order to make the landing last longer. All of these result in a decrease in the impact force.

There you have it. Oh, and if you want to win an egg toss or a water balloon toss, just cup your hands and slowly move them backward as you catch the egg (or balloon). You are sure to prevent it from breaking.


To learn more about Mr. Frederick’s HSC physics classes, head over to the website and check out our course guide.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Join me and other homeschooling parents at our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group to continue the discussion!

Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

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