Frequently Asked Questions
Is it too late to sign up?
For the online classes, enrollment is accepted at any time. For the live
classes, enrollments are accepted through the beginning of the second
semester (January). Different families have a variety of circumstances, such as moving,
or deciding mid-year to switch to homeschooling, or other situations. I try to be as
flexible as possible in accommodating various situations. If a student joins the
class after the class has started, he or she can use the online videos of the lectures
to get caught up and on track.
Can I take just part of a class?
Yes. I have had numerous people join classes at various points in the year
for various reasons. If you end up taking just part of a class, you only
need to pay for part of the class. Figuring out just how much to pay if you
only take part of a class is a fairly simple math problem involving ratios,
which, incidently, is covered in the Algebra 1 class.
Which math course should I take next?
The typical math sequence is: Prealgebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus, Calculus.
Algebra 2 may be taken before Geometry if desired.
When should I take Algebra 1?
Most students take Algebra 1 in the 8th or 9th grade. Some advanced students
take Algebra 1 in the 7th grade, but that is not common.
Do I need to take Geometry if I did Saxon math?
It depends on how far along you have progressed in the Saxon curriculum.
The Saxon math series does not contain a course in Geometry. The geometry
instruction is instead interspersed throughout the Saxon books. Homeschool
parents have told me that they have talked to college admissions people about this,
and that the colleges have considered the Geometry coverage in the Saxon books to
be perfectly adequate. Therefore, if you have completed the Saxon math series
through Advanced Math, or intend to complete it, you probably do not need a separate
Where does Geometry fit into the math sequence?
Typically, the sequence is Algebra 1, then Geometry, then Algebra 2.
Geometry could conceivably be taken any time after Algebra 1. Some people
prefer to take Algebra 1 and then Algebra 2 to maintain the continuity of
the study of Algebra. While this is possible, it should be remembered that
Algebra 2 is a more difficult class and many students prefer to wait an extra year
before tackling the material in Algebra 2. Also, there is a strong
continuity from Algebra 2 to Precalculus.
What does the term 'Euclidean Geometry' mean?
The Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria developed the first systematic
study of geometry. Starting with a few basic definitions and simple concepts
that were accepted as self evident, he proceeded to logically prove the many
theorems that make up the field of Geometry. The term Euclidean Geometry is
used to refer to both this comprehensive system of theorems and to the
rigorous logical method that Euclid used. The Geometry course described here
is Euclidean in both senses of the term, and also includes some introductory
What does the term 'Proof-based Geometry' mean?
Euclid developed his sytem of Geometry in a rigorous, logical manner. Each
idea was only accepted as true if it could be proved to be true based on ideas that
were already known and accepted. A formal proof is the logical demonstration that a
particular theorem is true. The Geometry course described here uses proofs and
logical reasoning in this manner to develop much of the material that is covered
during the class. Euclidean geometry is "proof-based".
What does the term 'Analytic Geometry' mean?
Analytic Geometry is sometimes referred to as "geometry in the
coordinate plane." Lines, angles, and geometric shapes are placed
in the x-y plane, and the points and lines are given specific
coordinates and lengths. Rather than dealing simply with the deductive
approach of Euclid, more practical problems can be approached and solved.
Analytic geometry contains concepts that are important for the student
to grasp in order to do more advanced study in math, particularly
calculus. Most geometry courses, including this one, contain some
material on analytic geometry.
Do I need to take Precalculus if I don't plan to take Calculus?
Not necessarily, but it is probably a good idea to take Precalculus.
Most colleges require at least one math course that is more advanced
than Algebra 2. The precalculus course fills that requirement. Also,
even if a student is not planning to take calculus during high school,
there is a good chance that it may be required when they get to college,
and the precalculus class is important preparation.
Is the Calculus class an AP class?
Yes. The calculus class is designed to prepare students for the AP Calculus AB exam.
Don't I need more advanced math for Physics?
Algebra 1 is the only math course required as a prerequisite for
the Physics course. Some trigonometry is used in the class, but it is
taught as part of the course, so a student need not have had
Algebra 2 or Trigonometry before taking physics. If a student has
already studied trigonometry, there will simply be a little review,
which probably won't hurt. Most students take Physics concurrently with
Algebra 2 or Precalculus, but it may be taken any time after completing
Will the Physics class be too hard?
The course seeks a middle ground between being an overly difficult
"killer" course and an overly simplistic "crip" course.
That said, the course does contain a lot of content.
Numerous topics are covered, and there is a lot of conceptual as well
as factual information to learn, and a good deal of math.
Remember that the course is offered on two difficulty levels, Standard
and Honors. If you are worried about the difficuly, you can always
enroll in the Standard course.
I'm not that good at math. Should I still take physics?
Certainly. This course often helps students with their math.
A lot of algebra is reviewed and then used throughout the physics
course. In addition, simple right triangle trigonometry is
introduced and explained from first principles.
Physics makes use of the math that students learn in their math
classes. After a month or two of physics, it is not uncommon to
hear students exclaim, "Oh, this is why we learned all that math!"
Students usually get better at their algebra as a result of taking
the physics course.
Isn't Physics usually taken by high school seniors?
Some schools put physics at the end of the science curriculum. That is,
the students take Biology, then Chemistry, then Physics. More recently,
however, many schools have been reversing the order and teaching Physics,
then Chemistry, and then Biology. The reason for this is that logically
and chronologically, Physics does in fact come first. The theories of
Physics were developed first, historically. From an understanding of
certain physical concepts, such as subatomic particles and the forces
acting on them, the study of chemistry arises. From an understanding
of chemical processes, such as those that take place in a cell, the
study of biology arises. There is a good logical argument, therefore,
for putting Physics first, followed by Chemistry and Biology. In
practice, it has been seen to work well both ways.
Is it better to take Physics as your first science course or your last?
It can work well either way. Whether the course is a good course or not will
depend primarily on other factors, such as the quality of the instruction and
the motivation of the student. Putting Physics first or last in the science
curriculum is not a "make it or break it" issue. Mr. Owens has taught Physics
and Honors Physics as students' first high school science course, and
AP Physics as students' last high school science course.
Does Physics count as a lab science course?
Yes, this course contains a minimum of 10 lab experiments and counts as a lab science course.
If for some reason you need more than 10 lab exercises then more can be provided.
In the lab exercises, students will
- conduct experiments dealing with measurement, data collection and analysis, and graphing,
- perform an experiment similar to Galileo's inclined plane experiment,
- perform experiments with falling bodies and the acceleration of gravity,
- perform an inertia experiment,
- perform an experiment dealing with work, energy, and horsepower,
- experimentally discover certain properties of a simple pendulum,
- experimentally verify theories of refraction,
- build and test low voltage electrical circuits.
Does the Physics course prepare students for the SAT II subject test in Physics?
This course covers many, but not all, of the topics on the SAT II
subject test in Physics. Students who wish to do further work to
fully prepare for the SAT II test may receive guidance for continued
How do the online classes work?
Students may take the class from home, or actually from anywhere. They
view the lectures on a computer, and send and receive written work
through the mail, email, or fax. Otherwise, an online course is
the same course they would take if they attended the classes. The
material covered is the same, as is the textbook, homework assignments,
tests, and exams.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of online class?
- Online classes have a completely flexible schedule.
- Online students may begin a course at any time during the year.
- Online students avoid travel time and time in traffic,
which can make a big difference in a city like Atlanta.
- The online classes are cheaper.
- Online students do not have the face-to-face interaction with the instructor
and the other students during class. They are, however, able to ask questions via email at any time.
Is Calculus available online?
Yes, Calculus has been available as an online class since 2010.
What are the computer videos I hear about?
Students receive videos of the lectures either over the web or on computer media. The students do not
see me, but they hear my voice and see my handwriting appearing on the screen,
as if it were an electronic chalk board. The videos contain the same content as
the lectures delivered in class, and they match the lecture notes given to the students.
If a student misses class, he or she can receive the same content
by watching the lecture on a home computer. Students also find the videos useful
for reviewing for tests, and for going over difficult concepts a second or third
time if needed. Click for
Sample Lecture Notes
Do the computer videos cover the entire course?
Yes. Computer videos are available for all of every course.
Will the computer videos work on a Macintosh?
Yes. The videos for Macintosh are in the Quicktime format.
Will the computer videos work on Linux?
Yes. The videos are avaialbe in Microsoft WMV format and in Quicktime format.
Software to play these videos is available for Linux. If needed, videos can also
be converted to Mpeg4 format.
Aren't these classes a bit expensive?
These physics and math classes may be a bit more expensive than some others you might
find. Please know that every effort is made to see that they are worth
the cost. Also consider that the
same course at a good private school might cost two to three thousand
dollars, so it is still very inexpensive by comparison.
Shouldn't these classes cost more?
Some people have in fact told me that I am charging too little. The ability
of people to pay, however, varies widely, and I want to keep the classes
affordable to as many people as possible.
Do I need to pay in advance?
No. You may pay in advance if you wish to, but it is certainly not required.
Standard and Honors Courses
Why are there Standard and Honors Classes?
Not all students require the same pace and difficulty level. Some
may need or prefer a class that is more challenging and at a faster
pace, while some may desire a class that is not accelerated. Offering
two levels of difficulty allows the class to accomodate a broader range
Is an Honors class the same thing as an AP class?
No. The Honors version of a course is not an AP course, and is not
designed to prepare a student for an AP exam. The Honors course is
simply a more challenging version of the same course. The goal is for the
Standard and Honors versions of the courses to closely correspond
to Standard and Honors courses at a good private school. AP courses
are specifically designed to be college level courses.
How is an "Honors" class different from a "Regular" class?
The Honors version of a class will require some additional work and
will be more difficult. The lectures are the same for both versions
of a class, although a few sections will be optional for the Regular
class. Honors students will have more difficult homework assignments
and more difficult tests.
How do I know if I should enroll in the Regular or Honors course?
You don't have to know in order to enroll. During the first month
of class (or longer if necessary), students will be given
both the Regular and the Honors homework assignments and tests, so
that they can consider which might be more appropriate. Deciding
usually becomes relatively simple. If the Regular material is too
easy, enroll in the Honors class. If the Honors material is too
difficult, enroll in the Regular class. Usually, about one fourth
to one third of the students take the Honors version of the course.