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Ask HN: Online science courses for those with only a high-school background?
6 points by lenova on Aug 18, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments
Hi all, I've become interested in developing a proper understanding of science fundamentals (specifically physics and biology).

The catch is I seem to be an in-between case. Most online courses seem to be geared towards freshman high school students or first year university students, and not for adults that barely passed Physics 12 back in the day ;-)

Any recommendations?

One of the free MOOC courses that most shaped my understanding was Discreet Optimization on Coursera. It was way way over my head the first time I started it. It was way way over my head the second time. It still is today, but today I understand enough about what the problem is and why it is important to make decisions based on that understanding. The first time I watched the videos was 2014.

So seven years. That's the thing about being an adult. About life-long learning. The world is not divided into semesters. Knowledge isn't divided into subjects and courses.

Nobody cares about my inability to do discreet optimization homework. It doesn't matter that my interest started when I was in my forties and now I am well into my fifties. Nobody cares in a good way.

So you start with something over your head and learn a little and keep at it as long as you are interested. And then maybe stop for a while and come back later. Or never come back.

There's no catch.

There's no test next Wednesday.

No guidance councilor to place you.

Just start and keep going as long as it is worth doing.

Knuth is over everyone's head. Engaging is merely and terribly a matter of the beginner's mindset.

Good luck.

For me, I think that brilliant[0] might be one of the vest resources out there! (no affiliation)

Their "learn to think" tag line is totally true, and after trying to learn sciences and math by myself (my formal training is in liberal arts so...) by reading text books and such, brilliant was absolutely brilliant!

Instead of throwing at you a bunch of facts and formulas and whatnot, they aim to teach concepts with real-life applications and thus taking you from what you know to the thing that they are teaching (something truly rare in western fact-based education)

Anyways, I can't recommended them enough! Good luck!


Then start with Khan Academy to go beyond barely passing 12th grade. Then move to AP courses on edX and coursera. From there the field is open for you to explore high-end courses.

EdX had an extremely good one that teaches physics and biology via cooking. The thermodynamics of food and biology of fat/sugar/nutrition.


It looks like it's focused on chemistry now, though. You might find something suited on EdX.

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