It's never too late to take physics 101. In high school, I took the mandatory science but I was on what we called the literary track (this was the French high school system). In college, I had to take a full year of science and it had to include a lab component. I did what non-science majors did and I took environmental science. It was science I could relate to.
Years later, here I am working with engineers and scientists. For the past four years, I am wondered if the fact that I was neither an engineer nor a scientist would hinder my ability to work effectively with engineers and scientists. I don't have an answer either way but more recent conversations with my daughters around their college plans and career aspirations unearthed a new train of thoughts. It is never too late to learn. Of course I have no interest in going back to school for a degree in science or engineering. Yet I crave a basic understanding of things in all fields. And so, I have a Pavlovian response when I encounter new learning opportunities. The latest one is Coursera, an online learning platform with course content developed by great university professors.
In early 2013, I will take "How Things Work", the equivalent of Physics 101 for non-scientists, taught by UVA professor Louis A. Bloomfield. An additional cool factor is that my daughter will be taking the course in its face-to-face version at UVA.
I'm not doing this just to learn basic physics. I'm also interested in the experience of such courses and therefore I will turn this into a little meta-learning experiment. It's amazing that such great content is made available to all in such a fashion. Yet, in the absence of a real need for me to complete the course, will my basic interest in learning something new be sufficient to motivate me to complete the course? How much will I really learn? Will I get tired of it and distracted by some other, more interesting learning opportunity? Will the fact that I am doing this as part of a broader learning experiment motivate me to complete the course?
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