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Ask Slashdot. Best Online Science Course? 166

Posted by samzenpus
from the browsing-teachers dept.
First time accepted submitter blubadger writes "Having slept through chemistry at school, I'm looking to fill in the gaps in my science education by following a short online course or two. I've been searching for 'Chemistry 101,' 'Basics of Physics,' 'Biology Primer,' and so on. There's some high-quality stuff on offer – from Academic Earth, MIT and others – but it tends to take the form of videos of traditional university lectures. I was hoping to cut through the chit-chat and blackboards and get straight into the infographics and animations that will help me understand complex ideas. Flash and HTML5 Canvas seem wasted on videos of lectures. If the quality were high enough I would be willing to pay. Have Slashdotters seen anything that fits the bill?"
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Ask Slashdot. Best Online Science Course?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:30PM (#40209969)

    Where is the comic book version of the Library of Congress, so I can look at pictures and know everything?

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Funny. The original poster shouldn't overlook the value of a college lecture. You can listen to it while you drive to work, or in your office. It's a bit difficult to look at charts while in the car or office.

      • by Kazymyr (190114)

        Agree with this.

        Kinda difficult to brush up on polyacetylimidazolidindiones if you slept through that chapter, without dedicating some hard learning time to it.

      • Re:Dear Slashdot, (Score:5, Informative)

        by sneakyimp (1161443) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:29PM (#40211549)

        The Feynman Lectures on Physics are awesome. Better than any other materials I ever encountered on the subject of Physics. I don't recall how difficult they are -- i.e., whether they require calculus or not.

        http://www.amazon.com/The-Feynman-Lectures-Physics-boxed/dp/0465023827 [amazon.com]

        If anyone could recommend something comparable for Calculus, I'd love to hear it. I need a Calculus refresher.

        • Re:Dear Slashdot, (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Altrag (195300) on Monday June 04, 2012 @04:03PM (#40212813)

          I'm only a bit started on the second book, but the first book did require some minimal calculus -- mostly stuff you'd find in an average first year calculus course.

          What gave me trouble here and there was the way he wrote calculus stuff right into his prose. Its just not the way I'd ever been taught to deal with calculus (or really, any maths.) Even with a full two years of university-level calculus and no shortage of other mathematics classes, I'd always only seen the equations and problems split off in a very obvious and segmented manner. It was a little eye-opening to see that stuff embedded right into the text and written out in words!

          He also tends to skip a few steps (again, probably a reasonable thing to do given the target audience) which can occasionally make following the equations a bit tricky if you don't happen to immediately notice the steps he's skipped.

          Of course, if you're willing to fore-go the maths all together and just try to absorb the more general ideas, you'll probably do all right.

          And finally, you'll have to keep in mind that these books were published in the 1960s and I don't think have ever really been brought up to date (which would be hard to do without changing the nature of the text, given that they're mostly a transcript of his actual lectures.) So there's a little bit of outdated information in there that we've since shown to be.. if not incorrect, at least not entirely accurate. I'm sure I'll see more of that when I finally hit the third book (quantum mechanics), but even in the first book he makes the occasional reference to things that turned out to be not quite as they appeared back in 1964.

          • by iiii (541004)
            ...published in the 1960s and I don't think have ever really been brought up to date...

            They have been updated. From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "Also released in 2005, was a "Definitive Edition" of the lectures which includes corrections to the original text."

            And the Amazon page [amazon.com] says: "The revised edition of Feynman's legendary lectures includes extensive corrections and updates collated by Feynman and his colleagues. A new foreword by Kip Thorne, the current Richard Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Calte
            • by rtb61 (674572)

              There is always the Wikipedia thread. Read through specific articles, every time to come across something you don't understand with a link, follow that link and repeat (use that back button to return you to the higher level article and continue). Eventually you will fill the gaps. Don't forget to follow the resources links at the bottom of an article often they will lead you better information resources. So far I have found that method to be quickest to build up information on a specific topic without gett

        • If anyone could recommend something comparable for Calculus, I'd love to hear it.

          Well, I'm not sure there's anything quite "comparable" to the Feynman lectures, but if you're looking to go back and really learn calculus thoroughly, I'd highly recommend Tom Apostol's Calculus.

          http://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Vol-One-Variable-Introduction-Algebra/dp/0471000051 [amazon.com]

          http://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Vol-Multi-Variable-Applications-Differential/dp/0471000078 [amazon.com]

          (These are known to some mathematicians affectionately as "Tommy 1" and "Tommy 2.")

          Apostol taught the 2-year calculus sequence at CalTech

    • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:56PM (#40210333) Journal
      Just because someone wants just the broad strokes doesn't make them a bad person.

      Knowing ABOUT something is half the battle to knowing HOW to do something. I don't need to know how to do the math myself to appreciate the concept of what it is doing.

      Just one look at the math for something like this [wikipedia.org] makes they eyes of most people glaze over, and they don't even know it exists. Even without being able to solve those equations themselves, a "comic book" version of it, if done well, might make more people appreciate stuff they "use" every day.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        In layman's terms you mean like how you press a number on a phone(tone), how long you press it (length) and how much force you use pressing it(amplitude)...?

        By the way I am drinking/drunk and my eyes did glaze over it however one common criterion that exists (or doesn't exist) I should say is the valuation of how one is able to interpreter data/ideas/knowledge and a delivery model associated with various modes of thinking.

        Honestly Einstein sucked at regular "maths", we all know this. However the pattern rec

      • by rbmyers (587296)
        If you have the requisite math to understand the cited Wikipedia article, the presentation is clear and concise. If you don't have the requisite math, I have no idea what could be done for you. This all reminds me of a fellow TA in a different department complaining that his undergraduates students at the well-regarded State U wanted math to be like Sesame Street. I doubt very much if the nations that are consistently outperforming the US on math and science exams are pandering to such a desire from stud
      • by iiii (541004)
        Agreed.

        There is great value in knowing which things we (i.e. humanity and the scientific community) understand and which we don't. To me this is the primary message and the joy of reading/listening to Feynman. Over and over again he sketches out what we understand in a field and then highlights the questions that remain, and shares his enthusiasm and wonder for those unanswered questions that are waiting out there for a sharp mind grasp. This focus on the unanswered question is what makes his work so
    • Having slept through chemistry at school, ...

      Seriously, go for the lecture videos. Take notes, and review them afterwards, just as if there was going to be an exam on the topic. Don't overload yourself; these things take time to absorb and to integrate with your existing knowledge.

      Pause and replay videos as much as needed, but you have to concentrate on the material being conveyed. An engaging infographic can give you an overview of some topic (like for plate tectonics or the SN1 reaction mechanism) perhaps to the "informed layman" level. To reach

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by blue trane (110704)

        Classroom lectures are, literally, old school. Using online presentation tools instead of adhering to the old physical classroom format means you don't have to deal with chalk dust, for example, or taking the time to erase a black-or-white board. You can do retakes. Distracting coughs, etc. from the audience can be eliminated. And the teachers can be more themselves, more in control of what they present. They can take themselves out of the picture and focus on what they're trying to communicate on the scree

    • by gadlaw (562280)
      Wow, even nerds and geeks can be bullies. Great. There is no call to make fun of someone for wanting to learn and someone who wants that learning in an interesting and digestible way. The main thing is a desire to learn. I'm also interested in seeing if there are other avenues for this sort of learning - so that makes me 'stupid' right? You're so smart.
    • If he wants the literal comic book version, I'd start here: http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=the+manga+guide+to&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=5776752567&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13913853472143733238&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&ref=pd_sl_59fmehhy56_e [amazon.com]

      There are also plenty of good free/open source text books out there. For example, this guy's stuff is pretty good, and quite readable: http://lightandmatter.com/ [lightandmatter.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not sure if it has the things you need, but I love it.

  • Khan Academy (Score:5, Informative)

    by roadkill-maker (523041) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:31PM (#40209997)
    Have you looked at Khan Academy? http://www.khanacademy.org/ [khanacademy.org]
  • by demachina (71715) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:32PM (#40209999)

    Feynman's Lectures on Physics is probably as good or better than any online course you will find.

    • Additionally, I would highly recommend Leonard Suskind's Stanford continuing education physics series (available on iTunes & YouTube etc) which is currently in its third quarter of the second attempt. The first covers classical mechanics, the second quantum mechanics and the third (ongoing) special relativity and classical field theory. The fourth I believe will cover general relativity and then the fifth will head into quantum field theory and the standard model.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Two of Feynman's books worth reading/buying:

      Six Easy Pieces (lectures on Newtonian physics)
      Six Not So Easy Pieced (lectures on quantum physics)

      These are available as books + audio CDs. They were my favorite "drive to work" listening for most of a year back about 10 years ago.

  • I was hoping to cut through the chit-chat and blackboards and get straight into the infographics and animations that will help me understand complex ideas.

    While there is some amount of popular science at the conceptual level that can be conveyed this way, you aren't really going to get far into even basic chemistry or physics via "infographics and animations", unless the latter have a lot more mathematics than is usually the case. One thing blackboards (and textbooks) have going for them is that, so far at

    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:48PM (#40210227) Journal

      What is the difference between "infographics" and graphical information written on a blackboard, anyway?

      • by Wovel (964431)

        There isn't one. I am not sure what his point was. Perhaps someone stuck in traditional Academia.

        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:16PM (#40210581) Homepage Journal

          Perhaps someone stuck in traditional Academia.

          Ah yes, that stuffy, hidebound world of academia, where smart people have to think really hard for a long time to understand complicated subjects, instead of getting their information in easily digestible "infographics" and becoming instant experts.

          • Perhaps someone stuck in traditional Academia.

            Ah yes, that stuffy, hidebound world of academia, where smart people have to think really hard for a long time to understand complicated subjects, instead of getting their information in easily digestible "infographics" and becoming instant experts.

            Your point is taken, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to ease the process by using newer techniques at conveying information. That dismissiveness towards "infographics" can apply just as readily to Cartesian graphs, chemical formula notation, Arabic numerals, or even writing itself. Decreasing the effort necessary for one person to comprehend another is a basic goal of language. Well, unless you're a lawyer or politician, of course.

            • I agree in general. I just have a strong negative reaction to casual dismissal of the immensely hard work necessary to become an expert in ... well, anything, really ... and the idea that a lot of people seem to have that because they read some pop-sci article on something last week, they know more about it than do people who have spent years earning advanced degrees in the subject.

              • by Altrag (195300)

                There's a huge difference between learning something and becoming an expert in it. An introductory course to anything isn't going to make you an expert no matter what medium was used to express the information.

                People grossly overestimating their own competence in a subject is a different topic all together, but again is pretty irrelevant to the specific medium used to transmit knowledge to them.

      • Most math is symbolic, not graphical. So the answer to your specific question is "nothing at all, really," but I think you may have missed OP's point.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        I don't think there's a logical distinction, but I do see significant current differences. I have not seen very many infographics that approach the level of mathematical rigor that you find in even introductory physics courses. They seem to be more about comic-style drawings, big text, and simple graphics. Not much in the way of derivations or working equations.

        I would be interested if someone had pointers to more math-heavy infographics, though. Maybe they exist and I just don't know about them?

      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        As much as I despised getting up for the 8:30 math lectures, I found that following the scribbling on the blackboard and getting an explanation of what it means and how you get there helps a lot - exactly like Khan does. Being able to pause a video to think about it would have been a big plus back then.

  • Could you be a bit more specific as to what you're looking for exactly?
    • Good, someone else picked up on the rather vague nature of the request. "Science" means he doesn't really need it in great depth, he just wants to learn a little more about the world.

      (Yoda) "Infographics, he wants hmm? Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science has lots of those!" (/Yoda)

  • Oh waaa (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:34PM (#40210035) Homepage Journal

    Higher education consists of actual dialog, lots of words, and drawing on blackboards. Why can't I have infotainment? I'm willing to pay to have things dumbed down for me.

    I know I'm being obtuse, but seriously, this stuff is too complicated for simple little animations and pictures to make substantially easier.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      but seriously, this stuff is too complicated

      That kind of defeatist attitude angers me.

      It's the job of educators to make complicated material straightforward to understand.

      If it can be done with simple infographics and animation, then that's great.

      If it can't be done that way YET, then people with more imagination than you will figure out how to do it. All I ask is that you don't stand in their way, or denigrate them as they accomplish what you cannot imagine.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        I do think the amount that you can learn from "simple infographics and animations" can be higher than it is today, but I don't think it will ever be at an impressive level, unless some truly revolutionary things happen in science, which I think is unlikely. It is simply impossible to get a handle on modern science, even at fairly basic levels, without a good understanding of mathematics, because science is so heavily mathematical. And the trend over the past 100 years, if anything, has been towards more per

        • Re:Oh waaa (Score:4, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:49PM (#40211031) Homepage Journal

          It is simply impossible to get a handle on modern science, even at fairly basic levels, without a good understanding of mathematics

          I feel like something is missing from mathematics. Part of that is that I'm not very good at it, but somehow I don't feel like the attempt was made to teach me how math actually worked, just how to plug numbers in and get consistent results.

          • Re:Oh waaa (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:21PM (#40211441)

            I feel like something is missing from mathematics. Part of that is that I'm not very good at it, but somehow I don't feel like the attempt was made to teach me how math actually worked, just how to plug numbers in and get consistent results.

            It's not missing from mathematics; it's just missing from the lower levels of mathematics education. The analogy I often use is that a calculus course is like teaching someone how to drive a car; if you want to know how the car works and how to build and repair one yourself, you need to take a course in real analysis (which is essentially calculus done over again with everything actually proved).

            Students who are not math majors seldom reach this level (which typically requires some gateway "introduction to higher mathematics" course), so they never have any idea what mathematics is about: they learn how to use it, not to do it. Indeed, most math graduate students don't have much of the big picture either. I'm a math Ph.D. with an unusually broad background (including comp. sci., physics, some engineering), but I still find that some senior faculty members seem to be able to see how the pieces fit together in a way that I still don't. So there are still higher levels; I wonder how far they go.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              It's not missing from mathematics; it's just missing from the lower levels of mathematics education.

              Yeah, I'm not expressing myself well. Not much sleep last night. Anyway, I've been told that once you get into algebra you have enough math to prove that stuff about fractions you learned back in second grade or whatever, but that's not in the curriculum. So I guess what I'm complaining about is that mathematics education doesn't proceed to proofs by the shortest route, because that's what it really should be doing. Otherwise, like me, one will mostly learn to plug in numbers, and not learn how to create ne

      • You know, some things are complicated - no kidding. But the ability to teach those things, even complicated concepts, means you should be able to translate that information to something your students can learn. In other words, if you can't explain it, you can't teach then you really don't understand it yourself. That could be the reason for these snarky comments.
    • Re:Oh waaa (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LF11 (18760) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:56PM (#40210317) Homepage

      To a certain extent, you are correct.

      However, there are many ways to learn. Classroom learning is just one. Traditionally, humans learn by imitation, experience, and storytelling in small groups. For many modern young people, it appears that YouTube is taking the role of storyteller.

      There are a LOT of students who struggle through a lecture, then promptly go on YouTube to find videos recorded by instructors who are actually interested in teaching. This applies to all levels of classes, from introductory classes to my current head-asploder; biochemistry.

      You may have suffered through traditional "higher education," but a new generation is learning a different way. Some of them are learning it better. We have made tremendous progress in many fields, why do we not study the process of academic instruction just as intensely as, say, nuclear physics? Because people like you seem to think that just because you suffered through it, everyone else must suffer as well. It's only fair, right?

      Sorry. You were being obtuse. :)

      Khan Academy is good, a lot of people use those videos!

      --cej102937

      • by mathfeel (937008)
        I agree with your larger point that the traditional lecture style education is not good for everyone.

        You may have suffered through traditional "higher education," but a new generation is learning a different way. Some of them are learning it better. We have made tremendous progress in many fields, why do we not study the process of academic instruction just as intensely as, say, nuclear physics?

        We do. Some physics department, like the one from which I got my PhD, offers research in physics education as a PhD program. Student do research and gather data in classroom and apply the same statistical analysis techniques to asset the effectiveness of certain teaching techniques. Unfortunately, they usually do not get the same respect in the department as more traditional thesis topics. Usually there are

      • Well, yes, but, as with everything, there's a cost-benefit analysis to go through.

        Just how much IT skill does that little animation with drill-downs and what-not take? How much editorial time by PhDs and other expensive hires does it take. How long until its outdated and needs to be redone? And, as I said, with upper-level focused material, the extra effort doesn't necessarily add substantial retention benefit.

        • by Altrag (195300)

          Probably no more than writing the same information in a textbook, having it edited and rewritten, dealing with publishers, etc -- providing the tools are in place to create drill-downs and what-nots.

          We're just starting to come to grips with such tools, and you're right that they currently take a fair bit more IT skill than your average non-compsci professor is likely to have (or at least, a different set of IT skills.)

          But there's nothing inherently bad about the medium. Interactive learning has huge potent

    • by Wovel (964431)

      I think the askers point was more that the information can be better conveyed by using tools more sophisticated than a piece of chalk. He is right.

    • by Animats (122034)

      Higher education consists of actual dialog, lots of words, and drawing on blackboards.

      Misery is looking at video of people writing things on blackboards. At least move up to the format where there's a clear view of the slides and an inset for the talking head.

    • by Alien7 (310889)

      Tell that to theDance your PHD people [youtube.com]

    • I know I'm being obtuse, but seriously, this stuff is too complicated for simple little animations and pictures to make substantially easier.

      I'd say high quality animations and pictures are EXACTLY what's required to make basic biology, chemistry, and physics substantially easier. These subjects are ideal targets to improve with these tools. Consider the excellent animations in this ted talk: (animations start at around 3:40). [ted.com]

      How long do you think the level of understanding granted by a few minutes with these animations would take to impart via "dialog, lots of words, and drawing on blackboards"?

  • KhanAcademy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yogiz (1123127) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:34PM (#40210037) Journal

    I suggest you take a look at the videos at http://www.khanacademy.org/ [khanacademy.org]. The guy that makes these has quite a talent for teaching and the sketches help a lot with more difficult subjects. I'm currently about half way through with the macroeconomy playlist and I find the information very easy to obtain in the format it is provided there.

    • by LF11 (18760)

      ^^ this ^^ I can't recommend Khan Academy enough. Many people in all the science classes I have taken (chem, biochem, orgo, anatomy, physiology...) have been hitting up YouTube to learn material, and it has been working very well for them. Khan Academy is a constant favorite!

      cej102937

    • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
      What Udacity as well - they are quickly ramping up their courses. New one for physics [udacity.com] starting June 25.
    • by alta (1263)

      I second this. We're going to be homeschooling our kids next year and there are some courses here we're going to integrate into the curriculum.

  • Get on craigslist/ebay and find some used text books that come with CDs. They typically have wonderful animations and interactive diagrams that helped me immensely in my Bio/Biochem undergrad. Also, do a cursory search on youtube. My wife recently completed some basic chemistry courses and showed me some of the stuff that was on youtube -- amazing it was.
  • Crashcourse has lots of nice animations and information. http://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse [youtube.com]
  • by Z80xxc! (1111479) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:37PM (#40210089)

    It's a work in progress, but there's a new YouTube series called Crash Course [youtube.com] which presently covers biology and world history. They're planning to encompass other subjects in the future as well, but it just recently started. The history lessons are taught by author/nerd John Green and the biology is taught by his brother Hank Green. I suggest you check it out; it's got lots of neat graphics, simple explanations, and is easy to follow.

    As mentioned in other posts, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org] is also a fantastic online resource. It's not quite as spiffy as Crash Course, but covers far more subjects, and is easy to follow.

  • Time to hit the internets for some basics. Use the same search terms as you've just typed in and use the homework-helper sites for high school and college. Some professors (and good HS teachers) know their students need more than just lecture in class.
    Also, visit Tube-U (youtube) and watch actual science experiments in progress. Go to Wiki places for dry descriptions and SOURCES you can actually look up at your local public library.
    Specifics? chemistry.about.com, chem1.com, google...
    Don't be afraid to take
  • Back when I was in school, we has Schaum's outlines [mhprofessional.com], and we liked them. Search the internet for explanations if you have trouble, but working through a ton of problems n paper will give you proficiency and confidence.
    • by zmughal (1343549)
      I agree with this. Schaum's Outlines are surprisingly comprehensive, easy to follow, and well-written. They are meant to complement textbooks, but given the low priority on conceptual organisation found in many textbooks, these can often be used alone if you do the problems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:42PM (#40210159)

    You should take a look at Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative ( http://oli.cmu.edu ). They have whole courses, which are typically not video-based, and they include lots of interactive exercises to help you grasp the concepts. (Full Disclosure: I'm currently working on a new chemistry course for OLI, which should be available later this year or early next year.)

  • Check out Crash Course [youtube.com] for two great courses in biology and world history.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Courses

    http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/courses.aspx?s=821&ps=910

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Courses

      http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/courses.aspx?s=821&ps=910

      Beware the bombardment of direct mail they will send you when they get your address.

  • Udacity [udacity.com] has a physics course it's rolling out at the end of the month. Looks fairly basic, but you'll have to decide for yourself if the level is appropriate for you.
  • /. ads with sound (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SoupGuru (723634)

    Here's my ask Slashdot:

    Are you actively trying to disgust long term users?

    I used to check Slashdot daily. Maybe I'll just check in on Rob Malda's Google+ stream from now on.

  • http://www.physics.harvard.edu/about/Phys253.html [harvard.edu]

    Even if you don't understand them.

  • Open University (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Open University. UK/European. Being going for years now. You pay for it though and earn real UK diploma/degree qualifications.

  • In my experience, scientists show results etc with graphs using slides and rarely ever show animations. Researchers are more interested in the numbers than pretty pictures that can be generated. I went to lecture that was basically on computer modelling in industry, who said animation were great for management and trade shows- they look nice and tell you absolutely nothing about what is actually going on.

    In my area (chemistry) most lecturers don't have the time or the ability to create animations which are

  • I am thinking quietly now.
  • worked for me. $20 new.
  • by Peterus7 (607982) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:36PM (#40210851) Homepage Journal

    I would check out the Edupunk's guide to DIY Education [smashwords.com], and move forward from there. Khan Academy is good for math, because you can actually test your skills, but with science education, you need some way of actually showing the process skills. Until then, though, KA should be a good refresher.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have taught K-12 for 8 years, college level for around 9. Besides my own YouTube Chanel on Human Anatomy and Physiology http://www.youtube.com/user/mrfordsclass/featured and my own website http://mrfordsclass.net.

    I am also a huge fan of the following Mr. Causey for Chemsitry (YouTube) http://www.youtube.com/user/mrcausey?feature=results_main. The Khan Academy (I think everyone knows about this one) http://www.khanacademy.org/. You can also explore iTune, specifically their podcasts. User will upload the

  • by cowtamer (311087) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:52PM (#40211069) Journal

    FREE STUFF

    UC Berkeley Webcasts (I learned quite a bit from these -- try different courses by semester. Listen to the 1st and 2nd lecture to see if it's high value. Some are better than others. I got an excellent MEMS lecture from here once, and a really good one on Byzantine history. Some (like history) are good as audio in your car. Others get better with charts.

    http://webcast.berkeley.edu/ [berkeley.edu]

    MIT OpenCourseWare (haven't tried, but hear good things)

    http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm [mit.edu]

    Khan academy (of course)
    http://www.khanacademy.org/ [khanacademy.org]

    PAID RESOURCES

    Kaplan http://www.kaptest.com/ [kaptest.com]
    (Take something like the MCAT review if you can afford it for science/physics. They do a really good job of distilling the basics of science/biology/etc. without any nonsense. Disclaimer: I've also taught for Kaplan)

    Also, don't discount old fashioned books:

    The "Head First" series of books
    (Try the "Dummies" books also if you're not insulted by the title)

    Head First Physics [amazon.com]

    Home Schooling Curricula
    Whatever you may feel about the social implications of home schooling, there are some excellent science resources which will catch you up. I will shy away from recommending specific ones for fear of inciting a flame war. I hope someone better versed in these curricula can enlighten us with recommendations.

    Textbooks!
    Try to get some used textbooks from a used book store, if all you want is the 101 level stuff:

    Chemistry (Oxtoby-Nachtrieb) http://www.amazon.com/Principles-Modern-Chemistry-Fifth-Edition/dp/B001F39B2Y [amazon.com]
    (There are many nicely written Biology books -- see what you like)

    And if you really want to enjoy chemistry:

    Chemical Demonstrations, Shakhashiri [amazon.com]

    (Warning: do not try these at home until you know what you're doing)

    You may also wish to check out your local Makerspace/Hackerspace. You will probably find very educated geeks who'd be more than willing to teach you stuff...

    • by tzanger (1575)

      I wouldn't mind finding out what some of the specific homeschooling resources you're afraid to list are... Please email me (my email address should be shown in my user info page).

  • by TheSync (5291) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:31PM (#40211577) Journal

    Not quite Chem 101, but when you are ready for truly understanding the quantum mechanics of how molecules form from atoms, why molecules are acidic or basic, why they are reactive or not, you totally need to check out Prof. McBride's Yale Freshman Organic Chemistry [youtube.com] (CHEM 125).

    It is on YouTube, but the iTunesU version is better.

  • Seriously, not to knock the pursuit of knowledge, but what is your goal? Are you looking for a layman's understanding? There are tons of great lectures on YouTube giving you the basics. If you want any more than that, animated graphics won't do it. You're going to have to crack open a book.

    And, I say this 140 pages into my old Calculus textbook in an effort to relearn for a math class I'm taking in the Fall after a 15 year absence.

  • I can highly recommend The Great Courses. They are a professionally-produced series of either Audio or A/V lectures, accompanied by a very thorough outline/supplement. The only drawback is that when a particular course isn't on sale, their prices are ridiculous. But they go through a regular schedule of rotating sales, so any particular course will be on sale every few months.

    The courses are generally written to the level of an advanced High School class or early undergrad class, depending on the specifi

  • http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE82493DFAB9EA6FD&feature=plcp [youtube.com]

    The playlist is in reverse, but the show itself (from public television before it went commercial) is cute and entertaining as well as being an introductory course on physics. The same Youtuber also has a senior physics playlist [youtube.com] that I haven't yet viewed.

  • Regarding your request for STEM materials, you are welcome to use my Chemistry screencasts (http://www.youtube.com/user/WSCCCalomeni). The 18 screencasts are not lecture videos, but instead designed for an online Community College Introductory Chemistry Course. They are not as popular as (and different than) Khan’s work (I have not advertised them), yet they have still had over 20,0000 views in a year and a half. I have also authorized their use for school systems in India.

    You are also welcome to use

  • You said online but also said willing to pay, so for what it's worth....

    Linus Pauling's "General Chemistry [amazon.com]" is brilliant and a Dover Publication so it's cheap and a classic.

    For a popular introduction to science (esp. great explanations of the chemical bonds, but also amazing word play...): The Canon [amazon.com], by Natalie Angier.

  • http://www.learner.org/resources/series61.html [learner.org]
    "A video instructional series for college and high school classrooms and adult learners; 26 half-hour video programs and coordinated books"

    I've watched it twice, once in my twenties, and once with my kid. It is hosted by a Nobel prize winning chemist (Roald Hoffman) with demos by Don Showalter. Holds up pretty well for something from 1990 as far as the basics, except maybe for touting the wonders of Bisphenol A in the last episode or so.

  • Udacity has now expanded its courses [wisdemy.com] to include a new introductory physics class. In this class, you get to travel around Europe virtually and learn the basics of physics on location by answering some of the discipline's major questions from over the last 2000 years.

    It looks like a lot of fun, and do also check out the MIT Tech TV videos mentioned on the page I've linked above. They are a fun way to learn physics too.

  • Most inspiring course that I've seen:

    http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/biology/7-012-introduction-to-biology-fall-2004/ [mit.edu]

    Biology turns out to be way cooler than all this computer stuff. The cells in your body are actually stochastic digital computers which were not designed by a human intelligence, and so we're basically hacking alien computers to figure out how life works, and these computers are WAY more complicated and powerful than anything you've ever experienced.

    If you're a young tech geek, then this might jus

As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error. -- Weisert

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