Conceptual Physics

Conceptual Physics

[Note: New editions of this text are published every few years with only slight changes made in each new edition. I wrote the original review from the 1985 and 1993 editions, but there are currently 2006 and 2009 editions available. Over the years this has come to be commonly used a as a college text, so prices for current edition are listing around $150. Look for older or used editions.]

This award winning physics text keeps popping up as the most recommended textbook. The Colfax's write in Homeschooling for Excellence, that this book "...was less comprehensive than we would have liked but more accessible than anything else we could locate" (p.89). It is written as a college text, but can be used at high school level. It does not require a background in higher math for understanding, although some algebra is required. Author Paul Hewitt writes about physics in clear, non-mathematical language understandable to those lacking science background. Parents might even read the book and adapt the information to fit all ages.

Each chapter has a section called "Home Activities," which describes fairly simple lab/experiment activities that can easily be done at home without fancy equipment. Using these activities can make this a complete lab course. A separate lab manual offers more challenging lab activities. However, if you use the "Home Activities" in the text to create your own labs, the lab manual should not be essential.

Topics covered are mechanics, properties of matter, heat, sound, electricity and magnetism, atomic and nuclear physics, and relativity and astrophysics. This course is adequate for non-science majors, but insufficient for physics majors and those who will major in other areas of science because it is not based on the use of calculus. The publisher tells us that the text can be used for Advanced Placement Physics B.

I originally reviewed and recommended the 1985 edition. The 1993 edition has at least one significant change. It includes an additional paragraph and cartoon drawing explaining that "facts are revisable data." This is a significant philosophical statement that denies the existence of absolutes—a philosophical statement that essentially denies God. While this is a serious error, it is the only one that I am aware of thus far in the revised edition. I still recommend the book but be sure to correct this misinformation and watch for other problems.

It is an expensive book, but it is hardcover and 832 pages long. There is also an instructor's manual that includes answers along with teaching information.

Pricing Information

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Conceptual Physics, 10th Edition

Conceptual Physics, 10th Edition
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Instant Key

  • Suitable For: group or one-on-one
  • Audience: grades 9-college
  • Need For Parent/Teacher Instruction: moderate to high
  • Prep Time Needed: moderate for experiments
  • Religious Perspective: secular, watch content

Publisher's Info

Note: Publishers, authors, and service providers never pay to be reviewed. They do provide free review copies or online access to programs for review purposes.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."