Guest Hollow's High School Physics
Books & Resources

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Homeschool physics

Take a look below at all the terrific resources I've scheduled in for Guest Hollow's Homeschool Physics Curriculum! Students get to learn physics through a variety of interesting books instead of a boring and intimidating textbook!

NOTE: If you purchase this curriculum, you will have access to a printable booklist with a shopping checklist, to help you with your planning.

WARNING Preview all materials!!

I recommend you preview all items to see if they are appropriate for your students. Many of the books for this course were written with an adult audience in mind. They may contain minor incidences of cursing or a few references of adult themes / content. Some of the books contain references to evolution. I personally feel that high schoolers should be mature enough to handle any of the minor adult references contained in these books, but every family is different in what they find offensive! Additional notes about some of the books are in the descriptions below.

How to keep the cost of this curriculum down:

  • Borrow books and videos from the library. I always purchased books that were used over a long period of time and tried to get many of the rest from the library. Sometimes I'd purchase a few books my library didn't have, that I really wanted to use.

    When I could afford it, and when I was working on building a home library for the kids, I would go ahead and buy a big box of books. It was like Christmas in August as the kids delved into those boxes. It got them excited about what they were getting ready to learn. I certainly understand being constrained to a budget, though! Don't be afraid to substitute books you already have on hand or inexpensive titles you might pick up at a yard sale, or similar venue.

A few additional notes:

Christian This crown icon denotes a Christian resource.

Please note that the resources below do not contain most of the free videos that are linked in the schedule. I also don't list ingredients for activities and experiments, except for some harder to obtain items you can purchase online. Please see the supplies list that comes with the curriculum for more info.

Quotes below are from the official book descriptions.

Be aware that while this is a "math-free" physics course, some of the books below do contain some math when describing certain physics concepts. Your student will never be asked to DO or even have to understand the included math. The books I chose focus on physics concepts, not the math behind those concepts!

Also, there is a list of NON-scheduled resources below the scheduled resources list. Feel free to substitute any of those books for scheduled books, if they are more easily accessible to you, or if your student is interested in them. I recommend substituting them for books that are not included in the study guide, especially the biographies.

Physics workbook study guide

Guest Hollow's Physics Workbook / Study Guide - FREE download with your purchase
Used multiple weeks

Some of the books below have this statement in their description:

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Those books are referenced in the FREE PDF workbook that is included with your physics curriculum purchase.

The workbook / study guide pages were created for those of you who wish to assess your student’s reading assignments and to help train students to look through a text for information. They are also designed to help students retain what they’ve read. There is an answer key provided at the back of the workbook.

The World of Physics

Topics: physics and history

Christian Exploring The World of Physics
Used multiple weeks. - This book has questions for your student to answer at the end of the chapters.

"Physics is a branch of science that many people consider to be too complicated to understand. In this exciting addition to the 'Exploring' series, John Hudson Tiner puts this myth to rest as he explains the fascinating world of physics in a way that students from elementary to high school can comprehend.

Did you know that a feather and a lump of lead will fall at the same rate in a vacuum? Learn about the history of physics from Aristotle to Galileo to Isaac Newton to the latest advances. Discover how the laws of motion and gravity affect everything from the normal activities of everyday life to launching rockets into space. Learn about the effects of inertia firsthand during fun and informative experiments.

Exploring the World of Physics is a great tool for students of all ages who want to have a deeper understanding of the important and interesting ways that physics affects our lives and is complete with illustrations, chapter questions, and an index."


Junk Drawer Physics: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don't Cost a Thing

Topics: physics, hands-on activities

Junk Drawer Physics: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don't Cost a Thing
Multiple weeks

"There's not need for expensive, high-tech lab equipment to perform physics experiments-you probably have all you need in your home junk drawer. Turn a plastic cup into a pinhole camera using waxed paper, a rubber band, and a thumbtack. Build a swinging wave machine using a series of washers suspended on strings from a yardstick. Use a cork, string, and water-filled plastic bottle to create a simple accelerometer. Physics teacher Bobby Mercer provides readers with more than 50 great hands-on experiments that can be performed for just pennies . . . or less. Each project has a materials list, detailed step-by-step instructions with illustrations, and a brief explanation of the scientific principle being demonstrated. Junk Drawer Physics also includes sidebars of fascinating physics facts: did you know the Eiffel Tower is six inches taller in summer than in winter because its steel structure expands in the heat? Educators and parents will find this title a handy resource to teach children about physics topics that include magnetism, electricity, force, motion, light, energy, sound, and more, and have fun at the same time. Bobby Mercer has been a high school physics teacher for over two decades."

The Way Things Work Now

Topics: technology, inventions, machines, physics

The Way Things Work Now
Used multiple weeks.

"Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printer. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained--with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth.
An illustrated survey of significant inventions closes the book, along with a glossary of technical terms, and an index. What possible link could there be between zippers and plows, dentist drills and windmills? Parking meters and meat grinders, jumbo jets and jackhammers, remote control and rockets, electric guitars and egg beaters? Macaulay explains them all."

Mad About Physics

Topics: physics

Mad About Physics: Braintwisters, Paradoxes, and Curiosities
Used multiple weeks.

"Why is there eight times more ice in Antarctica than in the Arctic? Why can you warm your hands by blowing gently, and cool your hands by blowing hard? Why would a pitcher scuff a baseball? Which weighs more-a pound of feathers or a pound of iron? Let science experts Christopher Jargodzki and Franklin Potter guide you through the curiosities of physics and you'll find the answers to these and hundreds of other quirky conundrums. You'll discover why sounds carry well over water (especially in the summer), how a mouse can be levitated in a magnetic field, why backspin is so important when shooting a basketball, and whether women are indeed as strong as men.

...this collection of intriguing and unusual physics challenges will send you on a highly entertaining ride that reveals the relevance of physics in our everyday lives."

Note: I don't expect students to figure out these puzzles. They will learn a lot by reading the questions and then flipping to the back to read the answers / explanations. There is some math in some of the explanations, but students aren't expected to do any of the calculations. I skip harder "puzzles" that are beyond the scope of this curriculum.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Topics: physics and other sciences

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Used multiple weeks.

*Mentions evolution

"Millions of people visit each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following.

Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.

The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? will be required reading for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical."

Basher Physics

Topics: physics

Basher Science: Physics
Used multiple weeks. - This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

"From gravity to the theory of relativity, this unique book provides visual interpretations of complex concepts, designed to make learning physics easier and a whole lot more fun!"

Although these books are designed for younger "kids", your older students will find complicated subjects distilled down to friendly, memorable and easy-to-understand explanations. I decided to include these books because physics concepts and vocabulary can be difficult to retain for some students. These books will help names and concepts stick, and reinforce terms your students come across in their more difficult reading assignments.

Otter enjoyed and learned from the Basher books, even when he was older. ;-)

Basher Science: Extreme Physics

Topics: physics

Basher Science: Extreme Physics
Used multiple weeks.- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Please read the description directly above.



Topics: history, science, philosophy

Introducing Aristotle: A Graphic Guide
Weeks 1-3- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This graphic guide discusses Aristotle, his life, and his scientific and philosophical beliefs. The graphic format helps make the topics more accessible and easier to read.

Zoom: How Everything Moves: From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees

Topics: physics (motion), biology, chemistry, history, etc.

Zoom: How Everything Moves: From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees
Weeks 2-5- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

*Mentions billions of years and briefly mentions evolution. In chapter 12 Noah's flood is mentioned as something that could only be regional.

"From the speed of light to moving mountains--and everything in between--ZOOM explores how the universe and its objects move.

If you sit as still as you can in a quiet room, you might be able to convince yourself that nothing is moving. But air currents are still wafting around you. Blood rushes through your veins. The atoms in your chair jiggle furiously. In fact, the planet you are sitting on is whizzing through space thirty-five times faster than the speed of sound.

Natural motion dominates our lives and the intricate mechanics of the world around us. In ZOOM, Bob Berman explores how motion shapes every aspect of the universe, literally from the ground up. With an entertaining style and a gift for distilling the wondrous, Berman spans astronomy, geology, biology, meteorology, and the history of science, uncovering how clouds stay aloft, how the Earth's rotation curves a home run's flight, and why a mosquito's familiar whine resembles a telephone's dial tone.

For readers who love to get smarter without realizing it, ZOOM bursts with science writing at its best."

Come See the Earth Turn

Topics: physics, history

Come See the Earth Turn
Week 2

This is a picture book, so I recommend you get it from your library, rather than purchase it, unless you have younger children who will benefit from having it on your school shelf. It goes with chapter 5 in the book Zoom. I do believe that even high school students (and adults for that matter) can benefit from the information in picture books, so don't think you should skip it because it's too easy! ;-)

"Scientists knew that the earth turned on its axis. But how could they prove it? Countless experiments had been tried . . . and had failed. Then, one historic day in Paris, Léon Foucault gave a magnificent demonstration that offered the proof everyone had been looking for."

Northern Lights art project and science lesson

Topics: physics, art

Northern Lights Art Project and Science Lesson
Week 3- This lesson is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Mix a bit of science and art together with this northern lights art project / painting / lesson! I originally designed this for younger children (so there are pronunciation guides and such for some of the "big" words), but the art project and the info is good for any age.

October Sky

Topics: physics, inspiration

October Sky
Week 4

"Coalwood, West Virginia, 1957. Working in the coal mines is an inescapable way of life in this small town. When high schooler Homer Hickam, Jr. (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees the Sputnik satellite in the night sky, he dares to break free of the mines and reach for the stars. With the support of his teacher (Laura Dern) and three friends, Homer sets out on an inspiring quest to build his own rocket. Overcoming a poor education, a tough father (Chris Cooper) and a series of misfires, Homer turns his dreams into reality in this incredible true story of hope, determination and triumph. "You'll laugh with it, cry with it, and go away absolutely loving it," says Robert Butler (Knight Ridder News Service) of the critically acclaimed October Sky. "

This is an inspiring movie!

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love

Topics: history & science

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
Weeks 4-6

"Inspired by a long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of his daughter Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun, Dava Sobel has crafted a biography that dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishments of a mythic figure whose early-seventeenth-century clash with Catholi c doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion-the man Albert Einstein called "the father of modern physics-indeed of modern science altogether." It is also a stunning portrait of Galileo's daughter, a person hitherto lost to history, described by her father as "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me."

Moving between Galileo's grand public life and Maria Celeste's sequestered world, Sobel illuminates the Florence of the Medicis and the papal court in Rome during the pivotal era when humanity's perception of its place in the cosmos was about to be overturned. During that same time, while the bubonic plague wreaked its terrible devastation and the Thirty Years' War tipped fortunes across Europe, Galileo sought to reconcile the Heaven he revered as a good Catholic with the heavens he revealed through his telescope. Filled with human drama and scientific adventure, Galileo's Daughter is an unforgettable story."

The Age of Miracles

Topics: literature with aspects of physics

The Age of Miracles
Weeks 5-8

Note: There is some sexual content as well as quite a bit of cursing in this book. Normally there is more cursing (and sexual references) than I would tolerate in a Y.A. (young adult) book, but it's very well written and really captures what happens to a world where the physics we depend on begins to change in the context of the changes of adolescence. For a detailed review that mentions the potential content concerns in detail, click here.

Spellbinding, haunting, The Age of Miracles is a beautiful novel of catastrophe and survival, growth and change, the story of Julia and her family as they struggle to live in an extraordinary time. On an ordinary Saturday, Julia awakes to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer, gravity is affected, the birds, the tides, human behavior and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world of danger and loss, Julia faces surprising developments in herself, and her personal world—divisions widening between her parents, strange behavior by Hannah and other friends, the vulnerability of first love, a sense of isolation, and a rebellious new strength. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker gives us a breathtaking story of people finding ways to go on, in an ever-evolving world.


Topics: physics (gravity)

Gravity: How the Weakest Force in the Universe Shaped Our Lives
Weeks 6-8- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

*Mentions billions of years and briefly mentions evolution.

This book starts out with a lot of history about the theories of gravity, but then delves into some very understandable explanations of relativity and quantum physics. It gets more and more fascinating as you move through the chapters! Although some of this book will be challenging, it's worth reading.

"A history of gravity, and a study of its importance and relevance to our lives, as well as its influence on other areas of science.

Physicists will tell you that four forces control the universe. Of these, gravity may the most obvious, but it is also the most mysterious. Newton managed to predict the force of gravity but couldn't explain how it worked at a distance. Einstein picked up on the simple premise that gravity and acceleration are interchangeable to devise his mind-bending general relativity, showing how matter warps space and time. Not only did this explain how gravity worked – and how apparently simple gravitation has four separate components – but it predicted everything from black holes to gravity's effect on time. Whether it's the reality of anti-gravity or the unexpected discovery that a ball and a laser beam drop at the same rate, gravity is the force that fascinates."

Tesla Vs Edison: The Life-Long Feud that Electrified the World

Topics: history, physics

Tesla Vs Edison: The Life-Long Feud that Electrified the World
Weeks 7-10

I like how highly illustrated this book is! It's an easy and interesting read.

"Nikola Tesla today is largely unknown and overlooked among the great scientists of the modern era. While Thomas Edison, the most famous inventor in American history, gets all the glory for discovering the light bulb. But it was his one-time assistant and life-long arch nemesis, Tesla, who made the breakthrough in alternating current electricity.

Edison and Tesla carried on a bitter feud for years, but it was Tesla's AC generators that illuminated the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago under artificial light. Today all homes and electrical appliances run on Tesla's AC current.

120 years ago, they were billed as the 'Twin Wizards of Electricity', here Nigel Cawthorne chronicles the life and times of the two great men to help us finally decide just who really is the Electric King- Edison or Tesla?"


Tesla comic

Topics: history, physics

Physics Quest: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair
Week 7

This comic is FREE online. Click on the link above to view.


Hands-on activity

Precision Gyroscope
Week 9

Click here for other gyroscope options. Any of them should work fine.



The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

Topics: biography, physics (electricity), geography & culture (Africa)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Weeks 9-12

Note: Some adult topics are briefly mentioned like prostitution and gonorrhea. This is a terrific and inspiring read.

"William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him misala—crazy—but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks; some scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves; and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable true story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual's ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him."


Horrible Science: Fatal Forces

Topics: physics (forces)

Horrible Science: Fatal Forces
Weeks 12-16- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

A fun, comic book style format presents concepts like inertia and other mechanical forces. Even though it's designed for younger students, high school students will enjoy a bit of lighter reading with plenty of memorable physics concepts and examples of those concepts related to real-life adventures.

The Pit and the Pendulum

Literature tie-in that goes with the Fatal Forces book.

The Pit and the Pendulum

You can also access this short story online for FREE via the link in the schedule. Yes, I can find ways to link the classics to physics. That's Guest Hollow style learning! wink

Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age

Topics: history and physics

Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age
Weeks 13-15

"More famous in his day than Einstein or Edison, the troubled, solitary genius Robert H. Goddard was the American father of rocketry and space flight, launching the world's first liquid-fuel rockets and the first powered vehicles to break the sound barrier. Supported by Charles Lindbergh and Harry Guggenheim, he devised the methods that carried men to the moon. Today, no rocket or jet plane can fly without his inventions.

Yet Goddard is the "forgotten man" of the Space Age. After the Germans launched the V-2 missiles of World War II, the American government usurped his 214 patents and suppressed his contributions in the name of national security, until it was forced to pay one million dollars for patent infringement. Goddard became famous again; monuments and medals raining upon his memory. But his renewed fame soon faded, and Goddard's pivotal role in launching the Space Age has been largely forgotten--until now"

Tornado Tube

Hands-on activity

Tornado Tube
Week 14

This is easier to use than duct tape for the experiment / lab, and if you have younger students, you'll probaly get years of play out of it. ;-) I can't tell you how many times my son pulled it out of our "school closet" just for fun.

Klutz Juggling for the Complete Klutz Craft Kit

Hands-on activity

Klutz Juggling for the Complete Klutz Craft Kit
Week 14 (and any other weeks your student wishes to play around with this kit)

Who says physics can't be fun!?

Isaac Newton

Topics: history, science


Christian Isaac Newton (Christian Encounters)
Weeks 17-19

"As an inventor, astronomer, physicist, and philosopher, Isaac Newton forever changed the way we see and understand the world. At one point, he was the world’s leading authority in mathematics, optics, and alchemy. And surprisingly he wrote more about faith and religion than on all of these subjects combined. But his single-minded focus on knowledge and discovery was a great detriment to his health. Newton suffered from fits of mania, insomnia, depression, a nervous breakdown, and even mercury poisoning.

Yet from all of his suffering came great gain. Newton saw the scientific world not as a way to refute theology, but as a way to explain it. He believed that all of creation was mandated and set in motion by God and that it was simply waiting to be “discovered” by man."


Hands-on activity

Build a Periscope Kit

This simple periscope kit is used in week 17.

Secret Language of Color:

Topics: history, art, physics (light & color), culture, biology, psychology, chemistry

Secret Language of Color
Weeks 17-19- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

*Mentions millions/billions of years and has a couple minor mentions of sex (as in sex appeal, etc.). "Magic" mushrooms are mentioned in the blue chapter.

Read my review of this book here.

"Why is the sky blue, the grass green, a rose red? Most of us have no idea how to answer these questions, nor are we aware that color pervades nearly all aspects of life, from the subatomic realm and the natural world to human culture and psychology.

Organized into chapters that begin with a fascinating explanation of the physics and chemistry of color, The Secret Language of Color travels from outer space to Earth, from plants to animals to humans. In these chapters we learn about how and why we see color, the nature of rainbows, animals with color vision far superior and far inferior to our own, how our language influences the colors we see, and much more. Between these chapters, authors Joann Eckstut and Ariele Eckstut turn their attention to the individual hues of the visible spectrum, presenting each in fascinating, in-depth detail.

Including hundreds of stunning photographs and dozens of informative, often entertaining graphics, every page is a breathtaking demonstration of color and its role in the world around us. Whether  you see red, are a shrinking violet, or talk a blue streak, this is the perfect book for anyone interested in the history, science, culture, and beatuty of color in the natural and man-made world."

laser pointer

Hands-on activity

Laser Pointer

This laser pointer is used in one of the experiments in week 17. Choose whichever one from Amazon you'd like via the link above, if you don't have one already.

The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions

Topics: physics (light & color), art

The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions
Week 18

Artists use the principles of physics involving color, light, etc. to create optical illusions. This book features a variety of optical illusions!

"Prepare to be amazed! Inside the covers of this incredible, colorful collection are hundreds of the world’s most powerful optical illusions. They’re beautiful to behold, and stunning in their trickery. Some of the mind-boggling images seem to spring into action, vibrating, pulsing, and spinning like a hula hoop. Other ambiguous illusions feature two subjects in one: the fun is in finding them both in the single picture—including a mouse playing hide and seek in a cat’s face and a strange desert mirage where palm trees imperceptibly morph into camels. And still more, like “The Impossible Terrace,” which couldn’t exist off the page: just try to figure out if you’re viewing the space from above or below. "

Telescope kit

Hands-on activity

Telescope Kit

This kit is used in week 18. You can purchase any do-it-yourself telescope kit. Click here for more options.

neo magnet

Hands-on activity

Neodymium magnet
Week 19

Browse for the least expensive one in the link above! A neodymium magnet will be used in an experiment in week 19.

Michael Faraday: Father of Electronics

Topics: history, physics

Christian Michael Faraday: Father of Electronics
Weeks 20-21

"Charles Ludwig retells Michael Faraday's remarkable life story in fictionalized form. Here is the father of the electric motor, the dynamo, the transformer, the generator. Few persons are aware of the brilliant man's deep Christian convictions and his determination to live by the Sermon on the Mount."


Hands-on activity

Round magnets
Week 21

Browse the link above and choose the least expensive pack. You will need at least 8 magnets.

The Manga Guide to Electricity

Topics: physics (electricity)

The Manga Guide to Electricity
Weeks 22-23 - This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Where were these books when I was in high school? I'll admit it...I learned a few things while going through this book and enjoyed the manga comics to boot, lol.

"Rereko is just your average high-school girl from Electopia, the land of electricity, but she's totally failed her final electricity exam! Now she has to go to summer school on Earth. And this time, she has to pass

Luckily, her ever-patient tutor Hikaru is there to help. Join them in the pages of The Manga Guide to Electricity as Rereko examines everyday electrical devices like flashlights, heaters, and circuit breakers, and learns the meaning of abstract concepts like voltage, potential, current, resistance, conductivity, and electrostatic force."

Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond

Topics: physics (light)

Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond
Weeks 22-24- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is a BEAUTIFUL book! It also has excellent explanations. Don't miss it! Note: There are a few mentions of billions of years and such.

"A visual exploration of the power and behavior of light, across the electromagnetic spectrum, and how it affects life on earth and everything in the Universe.
Light allows us to see everything around us, but humans can only see a sliver of all light, known as the electromagnetic spectrum. Here, Kim Arcand and Megan Watzke present the subject of light as never before. Organized along the order of the electromagnetic spectrum, each chapter focuses on a different type of light. From radio waves, harnessed for telecommunications, to X-rays, which let us peer inside the human body and view areas around black holes in deep space, Arcand and Watzke show us all the important ways light impacts us. An introductory chapter describes what light is and how it behaves, while hundreds of full-color photographs and illustrations demonstrate concepts and make for a stunning book that's a joy to read and browse."


Albert Einstein

Topics: history, physics

Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity
Weeks 23-25

"Einstein's astonishing theory of relativity transformed every aspect of physics-from the study of atoms to the study of stars. Relativity is described here in simple, accurate language that young readers can comprehend."

Voltaic Cell battery kit

Voltaic Cell Kit
Week 24

This kit goes with the text in the Manga Guide to Electricity book. I created one of these with my son, years ago. It was pretty neat!

Nova: Inside Einstein's Mind

Topics: history, physics

Nova: Inside Einstein's Mind
Week 26

You can also watch this video online for free. See the schedule for a link, or search YouTube.


The Manga Guide to Relativity

Topics: physics (relativity), history

The Manga Guide to Relativity
Weeks 26-27- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Note: A cartoon girl in a bikini is featured on some of the pages. There is also some complicated math at the end of the chapters in the chapter summaries, but it isn't necessary to understand the math in order to understand the explanations of relativity in the comics. I really wish I had discovered these when I was homeschooling my kids.

"Follow along with The Manga Guide to Relativity as Minagi learns about the non-intuitive laws that shape our universe. Before you know it, you'll master difficult concepts like inertial frames of reference, unified spacetime, and the equivalence principle. You'll see how relativity affects modern astronomy and discover why GPS systems and other everyday technologies depend on Einstein's extraordinary discovery.

The Manga Guide to Relativity also teaches you how to:

  • Understand and use E = mc2, the world's most famous equation
  • Calculate the effects of time dilation using the Pythagorean theorem
  • Understand classic thought experiments like the Twin Paradox, and see why length contracts and mass increases at relativistic speeds
  • Grasp the underpinnings of Einstein's special and general theories of relativity

If the idea of bending space and time really warps your brain, let The Manga Guide to Relativity straighten things out."

Nanotechnology Demystified

Topics: physics, biology, chemistry, etc. in the context of nanotechnology

Nanotechnology Demystified
Weeks 27-29 - This book has questions for your student to answer at the end of the chapters.

"Get up to speed on nanotechnology and the many biological, chemical, physical, environmental, and political aspects of this developing science."

This book is an easy-to-understand "self-teaching guide" that has end of chapter quizzes and tests with the answers provided at the end of the book to assess comprehension and retention.

Quantum Theory - A Graphic Guide

Topics: physics (quantum theory)

Introducing Quantum Theory: A Graphic Guide to Science's Most Puzzling Discovery
Weeks 28-29- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Note: Mentions the Big Bang.

"Quantum theory is one of science's most thrilling, challenging and even mysterious areas. Scientists such as Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrödinger uncovered bizarre paradoxes in the early 20th century that seemed to destroy the fundamental assumptions of 'classical physics' - the basic laws we are taught in school. Notoriously difficult, quantum theory is nonetheless an amazing and inspiring intellectual adventure, explained here with patience, wit and clarity."

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

Topics: physics

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100
Weeks 28-31

Space elevators. Internet-enabled contact lenses. Cars that fly by floating on magnetic fields. This is the stuff of science fiction—it’s also daily life in the year 2100.

Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku details the developments in computer technology, artificial intelligence, medicine, space travel, and more, that are poised to happen over the next hundred years. He also considers how these inventions will affect the world economy, addressing the key questions: Who will have jobs? Which nations will prosper? Kaku interviews three hundred of the world’s top scientists—working in their labs on astonishing prototypes. He also takes into account the rigorous scientific principles that regulate how quickly, how safely, and how far technologies can advance. In Physics of the Future, Kaku forecasts a century of earthshaking advances in technology that could make even the last centuries’ leaps and bounds seem insignificant.

Vacuum pump

Hands-on activity

Vacuum Pump
Week 29

This "wine saver" vacuum pump is used in an experiment. Use it to keep your olive oil fresh, afterwards!

This is an OPTIONAL item. It's only used one time. You can watch the included demonstration video, instead.


The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics

Topics: physics (quantum theory)

The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World
Weeks 30-34

"A highly entertaining exploration of the complicated science of quantum mechanics made easy to understand by way of pop culture.

As a young science fiction fan, physicist James Kakalios marveled at the future predicted in the pulp magazines, comics, and films of the '50s and '60s. By 2010, he was sure we'd have flying cars and jetpacks. But what we ended up with-laptop computers, MRI machines, Blu-ray players, and dozens of other real-life marvels-are even more fantastic. In The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics, he explains why the development of quantum mechanics enabled our amazing present day.

In his trademark style, Kakalios uses pop culture examples- everything from the graphic novel Watchmen to schlock horror movies of the '50s-to elucidate some of the most complex science there is. And he brings to life the groundbreaking scientists whose discoveries made our present life possible. Along the way, he dispels the misconception that quantum mechanics is unknowable by mere mortals. It's not magic; it's science!"

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole

Topics: astrophysics, astronomy

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
Week 32

Note: This is a highly illustrated and beautifully photographed step-up from a picture book. Although the information is presented in a way that is easy enough for a younger student to understand, it's still a book that is rich with info and makes an entertaining and easier read for an older student.

What is a black hole? Where do they come from? How were they discovered? Can we visit one? Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano takes readers on a ride through the galaxies (ours, and others), answering these questions and many more about the phenomenon known as a black hole.

In lively and often humorous text, the book starts off with a thorough explanation of gravity and the role it plays in the formation of black holes. Paintings by Michael Carroll, coupled with real telescopic images, help readers visualize the facts and ideas presented in the text, such as how light bends, and what a supernova looks like.

A BLACK HOLE IS NOT A HOLE is an excellent introduction to an extremely complex scientific concept. Back matter includes a timeline which sums up important findings discussed throughout, while the glossary and index provide a quick point of reference for readers. Children and adults alike will learn a ton of spacey facts in this far-out book that’s sure to excite even the youngest of astrophiles.

Rocket Science for the Rest of Us

Topics: astrophysics, quantum physics, astronomy

Rocket Science for the Rest of Us
Weeks 30-33- This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Note: Evolution / the Big Bang is mentioned, as well as billions / millions of years.

"Want to understand black holes, antimatter, physics, and space exploration? Looking for a common sense guide to quantum physics that you can actually understand? Rocket Science for the Rest of Us is the book you're looking for! Get a grip on even the most mysterious and complex sciences with Ben Gilliland's guide to dark matter, exo-planets, Planck time, earth sciences, and more.

You'll hear yourself saying, "I get it now!" again and again as you explore the fun graphics and clear explanations in Rocket Science for the Rest of Us. Whether you want to impress your friends with your knowledge of quantum physics, finally know what a black hole actually is, or just learn more about the universe that's all around us, Rocket Science for the Rest of Us breaks it all down so science and physics are easy to understand. You're not a rocket scientist? So what! That doesn't mean you can't understand it!"

Ender's Game

Topics: literature with aspects of physics (gravity-free battles, space flight, etc.)

Ender's Game
Weeks 33-34

Literature Tie-In

I read this book as a young adult, before it was popular and considered a "new classic". It was and remains one of my all-time favorites. P.S. It's WAY better than the movie. wink

"In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. 

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards."


Fabric of the Cosmos

Topics: physics

NOVA: The Fabric of the Cosmos
Multiple weeks

"The Fabric of the Cosmos, a four-hour series based on the book by renowned physicist and author Brian Greene, takes us to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time, and the universe."

These videos are free for Amazon prime members, or you can pay to stream them via Amazon (or order the DVD's). Want an Amazon prime trial membership? Click the image below.

Amazon Prime


UNSCHEDULED "Living" BOOKS - These books are intended to be read throughout the year in whatever order you wish. They are optional, but will enhance your physics study and make topics come alive.


Read one book and when you are done, read the next one (again - in whatever order you wish). You can do some of these books as read-alouds, so you can discuss the contents together.

Here are additional unscheduled books for extra credit, extra reading and/or for those times when one of the above books doesn't appeal. I have two categories for you to choose from: literature and non-fiction!

UNSCHEDULED RESOURCES - Literature / Fiction

Dark Matter: A Novel


Dark Matter: A Novel

Note: This books is for adults and may contain adult themes. Preview.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Excellent characterization and well-crafted tension do much to redeem the outlandish plot of this SF thriller from Crouch (the Wayward Pines trilogy). Jason Dessen, a quantum physicist, once had a brilliant research career ahead of him. But after a girlfriend’s unexpected pregnancy and the birth of a son, this future was derailed. Now Jason is a professor at a small Chicago college, content with his warm and loving family life until he’s abducted into a world in which his quantum many-worlds theory has become a fully realized technology for inter-dimensional transfer. In this world, Jason didn’t marry his girlfriend and never had a son. Jason is determined to get back to his family and his own world, but nefarious powers in the alternate reality conspire to stop him from revealing the criminal lengths they have gone to create the world-hopping technology."


Life as We Knew It


Life as We Knew It

"I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open. High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like "one marble hits another." The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world. An extraordinary series debut!"

The Martian

The Martian

Note: Contains cursing / swearing
I really enjoyed this book. There is a LOT of real science in it, including physics. It's a fun read, but you may wish to preview it, first, as it's intended for an adult audience. BTW, the book is WAY better than the movie. ;-)

"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

Athena's Son


Athena's Son

"In 276 BC, Alexandria, Egypt is the most vibrant and influential city in the Mediterranean. But Egyptians are shocked when they discover Anubis, god of the dead, is killing men working on the Pharos Lighthouse. The evidence is inexplicable. The victims’ bodies have no wounds and the killer’s tracks are enormous animal prints. Egyptians believe the jackal-headed god is walking the earth and doesn’t want the new lighthouse built. Into this unearthly scene steps Archimedes, a new student with extraordinary skills in mechanics and science. He is there to attend the School of Alexandria and credits Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, for blessing him with the wisdom half of her powers. The pharaoh, desperate to get his lighthouse built, asks Archimedes to use his exceptional abilities to solve the crimes that only a vengeful god could commit and a 12-year-old genius can unravel. But Archimedes believes the murderer is more corporeal than spiritual and has to tread carefully when he applies the cold logic of Greek science in a sultry, mystical world of Egyptian culture. When Archimedes uses an ancient Egyptian scroll to put him on the trail of the killer, he also finds another god returned from the dead. Now Archimedes is going to need Athena’s war skills."

I, Robot

I, Robot

"The three laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future--a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world--all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov's trademark."



Topics: history, physics and other science topics, math, etc.

I have this book scheduled in the Knowledge of Nature curriculum, which is for much younger students, as well as my Guest Hollow High School Chemistry in the Kitchen curriculum. If your teen hasn't read it yet, it's a worthwhile book! You can schedule it in week 7, or other time during the year.

"Jeanne Bendick, through text and pictures, admirably succeeds in bringing to life the ancient Greek mathematician who enriched mathematics and all branches of science. Against the backdrop of Archimedes' life and culture, the author discusses the man's work, his discoveries and the knowledge later based upon it. The simple, often humorous, illustrations and diagrams greatly enhance the text."


Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel

"Teleportation, time machines, force fields, and interstellar space ships—the stuff of science fiction or potentially attainable future technologies? Inspired by the fantastic worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Back to the Future, renowned theoretical physicist and bestselling author Michio Kaku takes an informed, serious, and often surprising look at what our current understanding of the universe's physical laws may permit in the near and distant future.Entertaining, informative, and imaginative, Physics of the Impossible probes the very limits of human ingenuity and scientific possibility."

Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity!

Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity!

This is a terrific book. I didn't schedule it, as it requires too many special components to do the activities. If you want to bother buying the necessary equipment (see this supply list), you'll have a terrific hands-on introduction to electronics that is meaty enough even for high schoolers and interested adults, but easy enough to understand for even your younger students. Click here for a sample chapter and more info.

The Physics of Superheroes: More Heroes! More Villains! More Science! Spectacular Second Edition

The Physics of Superheroes: More Heroes! More Villains! More Science! Spectacular Second Edition

"Since 2001, James Kakalios has taught "Everything I Needed to Know About Physics I Learned from Reading Comic Books," a hugely popular university course that generated coast-to-coast media attention for its unique method of explaining complex physics concepts through comics. With The Physics of Superheroes, named one of the best science books of 2005 by Discover, he introduced his colorful approach to an even wider audience. Now Kakalios presents a totally updated, expanded edition that features even more superheroes and findings from the cutting edge of science. With three new chapters and completely revised throughout with a splashy, redesigned package, the book that explains why Spider-Man's webbing failed his girlfriend, the probable cause of Krypton's explosion, and the Newtonian physics at work in Gotham City is electrifying from cover to cover. "
Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout
Week 19

This book is almost like a graphic novel. It's very artistically presented and a novel (har har) way to learn about this important scientist. A plus: this book glows in the dark!

"In 1891, 24-year-old Marie Sklodowska moved from Warsaw to Paris, where she found work in the laboratory of Pierre Curie, a scientist engaged in research on heat and magnetism. They fell in love. They took their honeymoon on bicycles. They expanded the periodic table, discovering two new elements with startling properties, radium and polonium. They recognized radioactivity as an atomic property, heralding the dawn of a new scientific era. They won the Nobel Prize. Newspapers mythologized the couple's romance, beginning articles on the Curies with "Once upon a time . . . " Then, in 1906, Pierre was killed in a freak accident. Marie continued their work alone. She won a second Nobel Prize in 1911, and fell in love again, this time with the married physicist Paul Langevin. Scandal ensued. Duels were fought.

In the century since the Curies began their work, we've struggled with nuclear weapons proliferation, debated the role of radiation in medical treatment, and pondered nuclear energy as a solution to climate change. In Radioactive, Lauren Redniss links these contentious questions to a love story in 19th Century Paris.

Radioactive draws on Redniss's original reporting in Asia, Europe and the United States, her interviews with scientists, engineers, weapons specialists, atomic bomb survivors, and Marie and Pierre Curie's own granddaughter.

Whether young or old, scientific novice or expert, no one will fail to be moved by Lauren Redniss's eerie and wondrous evocation of one of history's most intriguing figures."

This book is also scheduled in Guesthollow's chemistry curriculum.

The Science of Superheroes and Space Warriors: Lightsabers, Batmobiles, Kryptonite, and More!

The Science of Superheroes and Space Warriors: Lightsabers, Batmobiles, Kryptonite, and More!

"Before you can start vanquishing bad guys, it's important to be schooled in saving the world. Packed with quizzes, sidebars, trivia, and more, this sensational book reveals the science behind your favorite superheroes and supervillains and their ultracool devices and weapons, as well as other awesome technologies from the science-fiction realm. Discover:
• Ten Star Trek technologies that actually came true
• Whether Superman would win against Harry Potter
• How new liquid body armor can make us superhuman...and more!"

Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality

Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality

I really like this book, but didn't schedule it in, as you have to wade through too many math related problems that I thought were beyond the scope of this course. For a student interested in physics, it's worth hunting through the book for the non-math questions, as they are all very interesting and a worthwhile read!

"Lewis Carroll Epstein explains deep ideas in physics in an easy-to-understand way. Thinking Physics is a perfect beginner’s guide to an amazingly wide range of physics-related questions. The book targets topics that science teachers and students spend time wondering about, like wing lift. Epstein elucidates the familiar but misunderstood — such as how tides work — along with more obscure but fascinating phenomena like the “Bernoulli sub” and the “artificial aurora” created by hydrogen bombs. Broken into many short sections and peppered with Epstein’s own playful hand-drawn illustrations, the book does not simply give the right answer: It also goes into the answers that seem right but are wrong and shows why they are wrong — a rarity in science books. Thinking Physics is a rigorously correct, lighthearted, and cleverly designed Q and A book for physicists of all ages."

The Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist's Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books

The Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist's Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books

"Former NASA astrophysicist Jeanne Cavelos examines the scientific possibility of the fantastical world of Star Wars. She explains to non-technical readers how the course of science might soon intersect with such fantasies as interstellar travel, robots capable of thought and emotion, habitable alien planets, bizarre intelligent life forms, high-tech weapons and spacecraft, and advanced psychokinetic abilities. She makes complex physics concepts, like quantum mechanics, wormholes, and Einstein's theory of relativity both fascinating and easy to comprehend. The Science of Star Wars does for Star Wars what Lawrence Krauss's bestselling The Physics of Star Trek did for the Star Trek universe."

The Physics of Star Trek

The Physics of Star Trek

"What warps when you're traveling at warp speed? What is the difference between a wormhole and a black hole? Are time loops really possible, and can I kill my grandmother before I am born? Anyone who has ever wondered “could this really happen?” will gain useful insights into the Star Trek universe (and, incidentally, the real world of physics) in this charming and accessible guide. Lawrence M. Krauss boldly goes where Star Trek has gone-and beyond. From Newton to Hawking, from Einstein to Feynman, from Kirk to Picard, Krauss leads readers on a voyage to the world of physics as we now know it and as it might one day be."

The Manga Guide to Physics

The Manga Guide to Physics

Note: I didn't include this book in the curriculum because it has a bit more math than I wanted to cover in this course. However, for a student who wants more of the math explanations, or enjoys the manga format to review the physics concepts being learned this year, this is a fun book with some great explanations.

In The Manga Guide to Physics, you'll follow alongside Megumi as she learns about the physics of everyday objects like roller skates, slingshots, braking cars, and tennis serves. In no time, you'll master tough concepts like momentum and impulse, parabolic motion, and the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration.

You'll also learn how to:

  • Apply Newton's three laws of motion to real-life problems
  • Determine how objects will move after a collision
  • Draw vector diagrams and simplify complex problems using trigonometry
  • Calculate how an object's kinetic energy changes as its potential energy increases

If you're mystified by the basics of physics or you just need a refresher, The Manga Guide to Physics will get you up to speed in a lively, quirky, and practical way.

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics: Hollywood's Best Mistakes, Goofs and Flat-Out Destructions of the Basic Laws of the Universe

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics: Hollywood's Best Mistakes, Goofs and Flat-Out Destructions of the Basic Laws of the Universe

"-Would the bus in Speed really have made that jump?
-Could a Star Wars ship actually explode in space?
-What really would have happened if you said "Honey, I shrunk the kids"?

The companion book to the hit website (, which boasts more than 1 million visitors per year, Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics is a hilarious guide to the biggest mistakes, most outrageous assumptions, and the outright lunacy at work in Hollywood films that play with the rules of science.

In this fascinating and funny guide, author Tom Rogers examines 20 different topics and shows how, when it comes to filmmaking, the rules of physics are flexible."

Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexe

Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed

"Fear of Physics is a lively, irreverent, and informative look at everything from the physics of boiling water to cutting-edge research at the observable limits of the universe. Rich with anecdotes and accessible examples, it nimbly ranges over the tools and thought behind the world of modern physics, taking the mystery out of what is essentially a very human intellectual endeavor."

The Cartoon Guide to Physics

The Cartoon Guide to Physics

There is quite a bit of math in this book, but it's entertaining and will reinforce things your student learns via the cartoons.

"If you think a negative charge is something that shows up on your credit card bill -- if you imagine that Ohm's Law dictates how long to meditate -- if you believe that Newtonian mechanics will fix your car -- you need The Cartoon Guide to Physics to set you straight.

You don't have to be a scientist to grasp these and many other complex ideas, because The Cartoon Guide to Physics explains them all: velocity, acceleration, explosions, electricity and magnetism, circuits -- even a taste of relativity theory -- and much more, in simple, clear, and, yes, funny illustrations. Physics will never be the same!"






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