Guest Hollow’s High School Conceptual (Math-Free) Physics Curriculum Book and Resource List

Welcome to the Guest Hollow’s Curriculum Book and Resource List! This list is to give you an idea of what will be needed if you are using Guest Hollow’s Curriculum along with some helpful tips and other information. For details about the curriculum itself, please click here.
Thank You,
The Guest Family
© Guest Hollow, LLC

Homeschool physics curriculum books

Literature-based physics that’s engaging and fun!

In order to use Guest Hollow’s High School Conceptual Physics Curriculum, you will need to obtain the following scheduled books and other items separately. You may be able to borrow many for FREE from your local library! Check out the F.A.Q. below for tips on how to save money when using a literature-based curriculum.

Every purchase comes with a printable book list!

Every purchase of Guest Hollow’s High School Physics comes with a FREE printable book list to help you with your planning and shopping.

The printable version of the book list features:

  • The ISBN number and author’s name
    You can make sure your copy of the book matches the one in the schedule.
  • Notification of when each book or item is used
    You can plan ahead when to check out books from the library. Books used throughout the year are marked “multiple weeks,” so you can decide whether you want to purchase them vs. borrow them.
  • Checklists for planning
    A handy checklist helps you plan if you are going to buy or borrow a book. It can also help you choose the format of your books (physical copy, e-book, or audio book).
  • Books are ranked in order of importance
    Books are ranked in order of importance to help you choose which books you need the most and which can potentially be skipped.
  • Consumables are marked
    You’ll get advance notice of which items are consumable, so you’ll know what you may need to purchase and how many copies you may want to get if you are using the curriculum with multiple students.

Here’s an example of the printable book list:

Keep scrolling to see the full online book list (below the F.A.Q. on this page).

Homeschool physics curriculum book list sample

We’ve scheduled in lots of colorful, fact-filled, interesting and engaging books for this year’s study! Before taking a look, we’ve addressed some common questions:

Book and Resource F.A.Q.

No. We’ve ranked items in the book list at the beginning of the printable schedule to help you plan your purchases. If you are on a strict budget, don’t have a good library system, or need to limit your student’s amount of reading, the ranking system will help you prioritize items.

Items we feel shouldn’t be dropped or substituted are marked with a #1.
Other items are ranked as follows:
#2: This item is not absolutely necessary, but highly recommended.
#3: This item is optional but recommended.
#4: This item is optional and less important than the others

Some customers only use books ranked 1 and 2 as well as books that are featured in the workbook.

You can also use substitutes from your own home or local library. For example: There is a scheduled book about Isaac Newton. If you can’t obtain that book, you can substitute another book about Newton. Keep in mind that the scheduled books were all hand-picked for their content, presentation, and reading pace.

Some books are marked “unscheduled.” These books are optional and are not featured in the curriculum schedule. They are intended to potentially enhance your studies, and you can fit them in whenever you have the time for them (or ignore them completely, if you wish).

We were once homeschoolers, and we know what it’s like living on a budget. We wrote a blog post to help you SAVE MONEY when using a literature-based curriculum. In the post you’ll find handy tips on where to get books, what subscriptions can help out, what some libraries offer for free, where our customers go for used books, and how to find books our customers are selling when they are done. Take a look:

How to Save Money When Using a Literature-Based Curriculum

Our customers frequently resell their used Guest Hollow homeschool curriculum books on our Facebook Groups. Here’s a list of groups you can join and post in! We encourage you to try and recoup some of your investment in books when you are done by posting them for sale in our groups.

You may NOT resell, share, or distribute any of Guest Hollow’s digital products (or printed out copies of our digital products) which includes but is not limited to schedules, workbooks, printables, and other materials.

Every student’s reading ability and interest differs. If you have a reluctant reader or a student whose reading skills are not fully developed, you can do some of the following things:

  • Read books out loud
    You can read some or all of the books to or with your student. This is a terrific way to participate in what s/he is learning, too! Our children loved read-alouds, even in high school.
  • Use audiobooks
    Audiobooks can be obtained from or a variety of other places. There are some benefits to using audiobooks. They can be listened to in the car, during lunch, while doing chores, while keeping hands occupied (knitting, coloring, etc.), and other times when print books don’t work as well.
  • Don’t overwhelm
    It may not be the best choice to do more than one literature-based program at a time with a student who doesn’t like reading. Don’t be surprised if this reluctant attitude toward reading changes during the course of the program, though. Many of our customers have told us their reluctant readers learned to love reading using our curriculum!

You’ll have to check with your local educational authorities or in some other way determine if Guest Hollow meets requirements since states and colleges have different expectations.

When we were teaching our kids, we usually had what we thought of as a “core” curriculum (science, geography, or history). Because these programs were so literature-rich, we didn’t do a separate literature course. This enhanced our children’s retention and enjoyment of the material they were learning, since their reading assignments complimented their studies. Of course our kids also did plenty of reading in their free time as well!

Guest Hollow’s Physics Curriculum covers a lot of different types of information. We think the BEST curriculums are those that are multidisciplinary. We believe subjects don’t exist in a vacuum, so we like to tie different subjects together, when possible, to expand students’ understanding of specific topics or things they encounter in various scheduled books and/or videos.

Additional credits could possibly be earned for literature and history.

Don’t forget to research your local requirements and consult the local experts in your area! We are in NO way advising what credits you should assign. You are ultimately responsible for researching this topic and deciding what will work for you and your family based on your local requirements, future plans, college requirements, and other considerations.

Science is full of historical discoveries and persons who changed our way of thinking about things. We think learning a bit of history makes some concepts clearer and more meaningful (as well as memorable).

Warning! Preview all materials! I strongly recommend you preview all items to see if they are appropriate for your student. Every family is different in what they find offensive! Additional notes about some of the books are in the descriptions below.

Books and Items
Guest Hollow's Physics WorkbookGuest Hollow’s Physics Workbook
FREE download with your purchase

Some of the books below have this statement in their description:

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Those books are referenced in the FREE PDF workbook that is included with your physics curriculum purchase.

The workbook pages were created for those of you who wish to assess your student’s reading assignments and to help train students to look through a text for information. They are also designed to help students retain what they’ve read.

There is an answer key provided at the back of the workbook.
Exploring the World of Physics: From Simple Machines to Nuclear Energy
Physics and history

Note: This is a Christian book.
Exploring The World of Physics

This book has questions for your student to answer at the end of the chapters.

“Physics is a branch of science that many people consider to be too complicated to understand. In this exciting addition to the ‘Exploring’ series, John Hudson Tiner puts this myth to rest as he explains the fascinating world of physics in a way that students from elementary to high school can comprehend.

Did you know that a feather and a lump of lead will fall at the same rate in a vacuum? Learn about the history of physics from Aristotle to Galileo to Isaac Newton to the latest advances. Discover how the laws of motion and gravity affect everything from the normal activities of everyday life to launching rockets into space. Learn about the effects of inertia firsthand during fun and informative experiments.

Exploring the World of Physics is a great tool for students of all ages who want to have a deeper understanding of the important and interesting ways that physics affects our lives and is complete with illustrations, chapter questions, and an index.”
Junk Drawer Physics: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don't Cost a Thing
Physics, hands-on activities
Junk Drawer Physics: 50 Awesome Experiments That Don’t Cost a Thing

“There’s not need for expensive, high-tech lab equipment to perform physics experiments-you probably have all you need in your home junk drawer. Turn a plastic cup into a pinhole camera using waxed paper, a rubber band, and a thumbtack. Build a swinging wave machine using a series of washers suspended on strings from a yardstick. Use a cork, string, and water-filled plastic bottle to create a simple accelerometer. Physics teacher Bobby Mercer provides readers with more than 50 great hands-on experiments that can be performed for just pennies . . . or less.

Each project has a materials list, detailed step-by-step instructions with illustrations, and a brief explanation of the scientific principle being demonstrated. Junk Drawer Physics also includes sidebars of fascinating physics facts: did you know the Eiffel Tower is six inches taller in summer than in winter because its steel structure expands in the heat? Educators and parents will find this title a handy resource to teach children about physics topics that include magnetism, electricity, force, motion, light, energy, sound, and more, and have fun at the same time. Bobby Mercer has been a high school physics teacher for over two decades.”
The Way Things Work Now
Technology, inventions, machines, physics
The Way Things Work Now

This book is FREE at Hoopla (which some libraries have a subscription to).

“Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printer. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained–with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth.”
Mad About Physics: Braintwisters, Paradoxes, and Curiosities

Note: I don’t expect students to figure out these puzzles. They will learn a lot by reading the questions and then flipping to the back to read the answers / explanations. There is some math in some of the explanations, but students aren’t expected to do any of the calculations. I skip harder “puzzles” that are beyond the scope of this curriculum.
Mad About Physics: Braintwisters, Paradoxes, and Curiosities

“Why is there eight times more ice in Antarctica than in the Arctic? Why can you warm your hands by blowing gently, and cool your hands by blowing hard? Why would a pitcher scuff a baseball? Which weighs more-a pound of feathers or a pound of iron? Let science experts Christopher Jargodzki and Franklin Potter guide you through the curiosities of physics and you’ll find the answers to these and hundreds of other quirky conundrums. You’ll discover why sounds carry well over water (especially in the summer), how a mouse can be levitated in a magnetic field, why backspin is so important when shooting a basketball, and whether women are indeed as strong as men.

…this collection of intriguing and unusual physics challenges will send you on a highly entertaining ride that reveals the relevance of physics in our everyday lives.”
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Physics and other sciences

Note: This book mentions evolution.
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

“Millions of people visit each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following.

Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics.”
Physics: Why Matter Matters!

Note: Although these books are designed for younger “kids”, your older students will find complicated subjects distilled down to friendly, memorable and easy-to-understand explanations. I decided to include these books because physics concepts and vocabulary can be difficult to retain for some students. These books will help names and concepts stick, and reinforce terms your students come across in their more difficult reading assignments.
Basher Science: Physics

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

“From gravity to the theory of relativity, this unique book provides visual interpretations of complex concepts, designed to make learning physics easier and a whole lot more fun!”

Basher Science: Extreme Physics
Basher Science: Extreme Physics

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.
Introducing Aristotle: A Graphic Guide
History, science, philosophy
Introducing Aristotle: A Graphic Guide

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.
This graphic guide discusses Aristotle, his life, and his scientific and philosophical beliefs. The graphic format helps make the topics more accessible and easier to read.
Zoom: How Everything Moves: From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees
Physics (motion), biology, chemistry, history, etc.

Note: This book mentions billions of years and briefly mentions evolution. Noah’s flood is mentioned as something that could only be regional in chapter 12.
Zoom: How Everything Moves: From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

“From the speed of light to moving mountains–and everything in between–ZOOM explores how the universe and its objects move.

If you sit as still as you can in a quiet room, you might be able to convince yourself that nothing is moving. But air currents are still wafting around you. Blood rushes through your veins. The atoms in your chair jiggle furiously. In fact, the planet you are sitting on is whizzing through space thirty-five times faster than the speed of sound.

Natural motion dominates our lives and the intricate mechanics of the world around us. In ZOOM, Bob Berman explores how motion shapes every aspect of the universe, literally from the ground up. With an entertaining style and a gift for distilling the wondrous, Berman spans astronomy, geology, biology, meteorology, and the history of science, uncovering how clouds stay aloft, how the Earth’s rotation curves a home run’s flight, and why a mosquito’s familiar whine resembles a telephone’s dial tone.

For readers who love to get smarter without realizing it, ZOOM bursts with science writing at its best.”
Come See the Earth Turn
Physics, history

Note: This is a picture book, so I recommend you get it from your library, rather than purchase it, unless you have younger children who will benefit from having it on your school shelf. It goes with chapter 5 in the book Zoom.
Come See the Earth Turn 

This book is only available used.

“Scientists knew that the earth turned on its axis. But how could they prove it? Countless experiments had been tried . . . and had failed. Then, one historic day in Paris, Léon Foucault gave a magnificent demonstration that offered the proof everyone had been looking for.”
Northern Lights Art Activity
Physics, art
Northern Lights Art Project and Science Lesson

This lesson is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Mix a bit of science and art together with this northern lights art project / painting / lesson! I originally designed this for younger children (so there are pronunciation guides and such for some of the “big” words), but the art project and the info is good for any age.
October Sky
Physics, inspiration
October Sky

“Coalwood, West Virginia, 1957. Working in the coal mines is an inescapable way of life in this small town. When high schooler Homer Hickam, Jr. (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees the Sputnik satellite in the night sky, he dares to break free of the mines and reach for the stars. With the support of his teacher (Laura Dern) and three friends, Homer sets out on an inspiring quest to build his own rocket. Overcoming a poor education, a tough father (Chris Cooper) and a series of misfires, Homer turns his dreams into reality in this incredible true story of hope, determination and triumph. “You’ll laugh with it, cry with it, and go away absolutely loving it,” says Robert Butler (Knight Ridder News Service) of the critically acclaimed October Sky. “

History & science
Galileo and the Magic Numbers

This is an easy-to-read book that is all ages friendly. There is science and some math sprinkled throughout as well in the context of Galileo’s discoveries.

“Sixteenth century Italy produced a genius who marked the world with his studies and hypotheses about mathematical, physical and astronomical truths. His father, musician Vincenzio Galilei said, “Truth is not found behind a man’s reputation. Truth appears only when the answers to questions are searched out by a free mind. This is not the easy path in life, but it is the most rewarding.” Galileo challenged divine law and the physics of Aristotle and questioned everything in search of truths. And it was through this quest for truth that he was able to establish a structure for modern science.”

The Age of Miracles: A Novel
Fiction, physics

Note: There is some sexual content as well as quite a bit of cursing in this book. Normally there is more cursing (and sexual references) than I would tolerate in a Y.A. (young adult) book, but it’s very well written and really captures what happens to a world where the physics we depend on begins to change in the context of the changes of adolescence. 

For a detailed review that mentions the potential content concerns in detail, click here.
The Age of Miracles

Spellbinding, haunting, The Age of Miracles is a beautiful novel of catastrophe and survival, growth and change, the story of Julia and her family as they struggle to live in an extraordinary time. On an ordinary Saturday, Julia awakes to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer, gravity is affected, the birds, the tides, human behavior and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world of danger and loss, Julia faces surprising developments in herself, and her personal world—divisions widening between her parents, strange behavior by Hannah and other friends, the vulnerability of first love, a sense of isolation, and a rebellious new strength. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker gives us a breathtaking story of people finding ways to go on, in an ever-evolving world.
Choose one of the following:
Gravity: How the Weakest Force in the Universe Shaped Our LivesPhysics (gravity)

Note: This book mentions billions of years and briefly mentions evolution.

Gravity: How the Weakest Force in the Universe Shaped Our Lives

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This book starts out with a lot of history about the theories of gravity, but then delves into some very understandable explanations of relativity and quantum physics. It gets more and more fascinating as you move through the chapters! Although some of this book will be challenging, it’s worth reading.
The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary DayPhysics (multiple topics in easy-to-understand language)

The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day

“Most of us are clueless when it comes to the physics that makes our modern world so convenient. What’s the simple science behind motion sensors, touch screens, and toasters? How do we glide through tolls using an E-Z Pass, or find our way to new places using GPS?  In The Physics of Everyday Things, James Kakalios takes us on an amazing journey into the subatomic marvels that underlie so much of what we use and take for granted.
Breaking down the world of things into a single day, Kakalios engages our curiosity about how our refrigerators keep food cool, how a plane manages to remain airborne, and how our wrist fitness monitors keep track of our steps. Each explanation is coupled with a story revealing the interplay of the astonishing invisible forces that surround us. Through this “narrative physics,” The Physics of Everyday Things demonstrates that—far from the abstractions conjured by terms like the Higgs Boson, black holes, and gravity waves—sophisticated science is also quite practical. With his signature clarity and inventiveness, Kakalios ignites our imaginations and enthralls us with the principles that make up our lives.”
The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World
History, physics

Note: This book mentions some violence (a murder and death by electric chair). Preview for sensitive students.
The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Light the World

“The spellbinding true account of the scientific competition to light the world with electricity.
In the mid-to-late-nineteenth century, a burgeoning science called electricity promised to shine new light on a rousing nation. Inventive and ambitious minds were hard at work. Soon that spark was fanned, and a fiery war was under way to be the first to light―and run―the world with electricity. Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of direct current (DC), engaged in a brutal battle with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, the inventors of alternating current (AC). There would be no ties in this race―only a winner and a loser. The prize: a nationwide monopoly in electric current. Brimming with action, suspense, and rich historical and biographical information about these brilliant inventors, here is the rousing account of one of the world’s defining scientific competitions.”

Hands-on activity
Precision Gyroscope

Click here for other gyroscope options. Any of them should work fine.
Physics Quest: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair
History, physics
Physics Quest: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair

This comic is FREE online. Click on the link above to view.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Biography, physics (electricity), geography & culture (Africa)

Note: Some adult topics are briefly mentioned like prostitution and gonorrhea.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

“William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbors called him misala—crazy—but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks; some scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves; and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable true story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. It will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual’s ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.”
Fatal Forces (Horrible Science)
Physics (forces)
Horrible Science: Fatal Forces

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

A fun, comic book style format presents concepts like inertia and other mechanical forces. Even though it’s designed for younger students, high school students will enjoy a bit of lighter reading with plenty of memorable physics concepts and examples of those concepts related to real-life adventures.
The Pit and the Pendulum
Literature tie-in that goes with the Fatal Forces book.
The Pit and the Pendulum

You can also access this short story online for FREE via the link in the schedule. Yes, I can find ways to link the classics to physics. That’s Guest Hollow style learning!
Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age
History and physics
Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age

“More famous in his day than Einstein or Edison, the troubled, solitary genius Robert H. Goddard was the American father of rocketry and space flight, launching the world’s first liquid-fuel rockets and the first powered vehicles to break the sound barrier. Supported by Charles Lindbergh and Harry Guggenheim, he devised the methods that carried men to the moon. Today, no rocket or jet plane can fly without his inventions.”
tornado tube
Hands-on activity
Tornado Tube

This is easier to use than duct tape for the experiment / lab, and if you have younger students, you’ll probably get years of play out of it. I can’t tell you how many times my son pulled it out of our “school closet” just for fun.
Choose one of the following:
Isaac NewtonHistory, science
Note: This is a Christian biography.

Optional 1: Isaac Newton (Christian Encounters) (Note: This book is only available via Kindle.)

“As an inventor, astronomer, physicist, and philosopher, Isaac Newton forever changed the way we see and understand the world. At one point, he was the world’s leading authority in mathematics, optics, and alchemy. And surprisingly he wrote more about faith and religion than on all of these subjects combined. But his single-minded focus on knowledge and discovery was a great detriment to his health. Newton suffered from fits of mania, insomnia, depression, a nervous breakdown, and even mercury poisoning.

Yet from all of his suffering came great gain. Newton saw the scientific world not as a way to refute theology, but as a way to explain it. He believed that all of creation was mandated and set in motion by God and that it was simply waiting to be “discovered” by man.”
History, science
Note: This is a secular biography.

Option 2:
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d

“Before Isaac Newton became the father of physics, an accomplished mathematician, or a leader of the scientific revolution, he was a boy living in an apothecary’s house, observing and experimenting, recording his observations of the world in a tiny notebook. As a young genius living in a time before science as we know it existed, Isaac studied the few books he could get his hands on, built handmade machines, and experimented with alchemy—a process of chemical reactions that seemed, at the time, to be magical. Mary Losure’s riveting narrative nonfiction account of Isaac’s early life traces his development as a thinker from his childhood, in friendly prose that will capture the attention of today’s budding scientists—as if by magic. Back matter includes an afterword, an author’s note, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.”
Juggling kit
Hands-on activity
Choose a juggling kit.

Who says physics can’t be fun!?
Secret Language of Color: Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, & Violet
History, art, physics (light & color), culture, biology, psychology, chemistry

Note: This book mentions millions/billions of years and has a couple minor mentions of sex (as in sex appeal, etc.). “Magic” mushrooms are mentioned in the blue chapter.
Secret Language of Color

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

“Why is the sky blue, the grass green, a rose red? Most of us have no idea how to answer these questions, nor are we aware that color pervades nearly all aspects of life, from the subatomic realm and the natural world to human culture and psychology.
Organized into chapters that begin with a fascinating explanation of the physics and chemistry of color, The Secret Language of Color travels from outer space to Earth, from plants to animals to humans. In these chapters we learn about how and why we see color, the nature of rainbows, animals with color vision far superior and far inferior to our own, how our language influences the colors we see, and much more. Between these chapters, authors Joann Eckstut and Ariele Eckstut turn their attention to the individual hues of the visible spectrum, presenting each in fascinating, in-depth detail.
Including hundreds of stunning photographs and dozens of informative, often entertaining graphics, every page is a breathtaking demonstration of color and its role in the world around us. Whether  you see red, are a shrinking violet, or talk a blue streak, this is the perfect book for anyone interested in the history, science, culture, and beatuty of color in the natural and man-made world.”
Red Laser Pointer
Hands-on activity
Laser Pointer

A laser pointer is used in one of the experiments in week 17. Choose whichever one from Amazon you’d like via the link above, if you don’t have one already.
The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions
Physics (light & color), art
The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions

Artists use the principles of physics involving color, light, etc. to create optical illusions. This book features a variety of optical illusions!

“Prepare to be amazed! Inside the covers of this incredible, colorful collection are hundreds of the world’s most powerful optical illusions. They’re beautiful to behold, and stunning in their trickery. Some of the mind-boggling images seem to spring into action, vibrating, pulsing, and spinning like a hula hoop. Other ambiguous illusions feature two subjects in one: the fun is in finding them both in the single picture—including a mouse playing hide and seek in a cat’s face and a strange desert mirage where palm trees imperceptibly morph into camels. And still more, like “The Impossible Terrace,” which couldn’t exist off the page: just try to figure out if you’re viewing the space from above or below. “
Simple Refracting Telescope Kit
Hands-on activity
Simple Refracting Telescope Kit

Use this DIY telescope kit to explore the science of some of the earliest telescopes! Build a single, simple refracting telescope & study the included detailed guide to learn different aspects of basic astronomical viewing.

Neodymium Disc Magnets
Hands-on activity
Neodymium magnet

A neodymium magnet will be used in an experiment in week 19.
Michael Faraday: Father of Electronics
History, physics

Note: This is a Christian biography.
Michael Faraday: Father of Electronics

“Charles Ludwig retells Michael Faraday’s remarkable life story in fictionalized form. Here is the father of the electric motor, the dynamo, the transformer, the generator. Few persons are aware of the brilliant man’s deep Christian convictions and his determination to live by the Sermon on the Mount.”
Round Disk Magnets
Hands-on activity
Round magnets

Browse the link above and choose the least expensive pack. You will need at least 8 magnets.
The Manga Guide to Electricity
Physics (electricity)
The Manga Guide to Electricity

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Where were these books when I was in high school? I’ll admit it…I learned a few things while going through this book and enjoyed the manga comics to boot, lol.

“Rereko is just your average high-school girl from Electopia, the land of electricity, but she’s totally failed her final electricity exam! Now she has to go to summer school on Earth. And this time, she has to pass.

Luckily, her ever-patient tutor Hikaru is there to help. Join them in the pages of The Manga Guide to Electricity as Rereko examines everyday electrical devices like flashlights, heaters, and circuit breakers, and learns the meaning of abstract concepts like voltage, potential, current, resistance, conductivity, and electrostatic force.”
Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond
Physics (light)

Note: There are a few mentions of billions of years.
Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is a BEAUTIFUL book! It also has excellent explanations. Don’t miss it!

“A visual exploration of the power and behavior of light, across the electromagnetic spectrum, and how it affects life on earth and everything in the Universe.

Light allows us to see everything around us, but humans can only see a sliver of all light, known as the electromagnetic spectrum. Here, Kim Arcand and Megan Watzke present the subject of light as never before. Organized along the order of the electromagnetic spectrum, each chapter focuses on a different type of light. From radio waves, harnessed for telecommunications, to X-rays, which let us peer inside the human body and view areas around black holes in deep space, Arcand and Watzke show us all the important ways light impacts us. An introductory chapter describes what light is and how it behaves, while hundreds of full-color photographs and illustrations demonstrate concepts and make for a stunning book that’s a joy to read and browse.”

History, physics
Note: Einstein’s infidelities are mentioned but without graphic details.

“A world-changing equation and a wild head of hair are all most of us know about one of history’s greatest minds, despite his being a household name in his lifetime and an icon in ours. But while the broad outlines of what Einstein did are well known, who he was remained hidden from view to most…even his closest friends.

This is the story of a scientist who made many mistakes, and even when he wanted to be proven wrong, was often right in the end. It’s a story of a humanist who struggled to connect with people. And it’s a story of a reluctant revolutionary who paid a high price for living with a single dream.

In Einstein, Jim Ottaviani and Jerel Dye take us behind the veneer of celebrity, painting a complex and intimate portrait of the scientist whose name has become another word for genius.”
Inside Einstein's Mind
History, physics
Nova: Inside Einstein’s Mind

voltaic cell kit
Hands-on activity
Voltaic Cell Kit

This kit goes with the text in the Manga Guide to Electricity book. My son and I created one of these years ago. It was pretty neat!
The Manga Guide to Relativity
Physics (relativity), history

Note: A cartoon girl in a bikini is featured on some of the pages. Parents will want to specifically preview p. 84-85 where one student mentions to another about viewing his teacher in a bathing suit (and a cartoon drawing of her rear end in a bathing suit is shown). The student in the comic seems to be embarrassed/uncomfortable by this. The context may be inappropriate for some families.
There is also some complicated math at the end of the chapters in the chapter summaries, but it isn’t necessary to understand the math in order to understand the explanations of relativity in the comics.
The Manga Guide to Relativity

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

I really wish I had discovered these manga guides when I was homeschooling my kids.

“Follow along with The Manga Guide to Relativity as Minagi learns about the non-intuitive laws that shape our universe. Before you know it, you’ll master difficult concepts like inertial frames of reference, unified spacetime, and the equivalence principle. You’ll see how relativity affects modern astronomy and discover why GPS systems and other everyday technologies depend on Einstein’s extraordinary discovery.

The Manga Guide to Relativity also teaches you how to:
★ Understand and use E = mc2, the world’s most famous equation
★ Calculate the effects of time dilation using the ★ Pythagorean theorem
★ Understand classic thought experiments like the Twin Paradox, and see why length contracts and mass increases at relativistic speeds
★ Grasp the underpinnings of Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity

If the idea of bending space and time really warps your brain, let The Manga Guide to Relativity straighten things out.”
Nanotechnology Demystified
Physics, biology, chemistry, etc. in the context of nanotechnology
Nanotechnology Demystified

This book has questions for your student to answer at the end of the chapters.

“Get up to speed on nanotechnology and the many biological, chemical, physical, environmental, and political aspects of this developing science.”
This book is an easy-to-understand “self-teaching guide” that has end of chapter quizzes and tests with the answers provided at the end of the book to assess comprehension and retention.
Introducing Quantum Theory: A Graphic Guide to Science's Most Puzzling Discovery
Physics (quantum theory)

Note: This book mentions the Big Bang.
Introducing Quantum Theory: A Graphic Guide to Science’s Most Puzzling Discovery

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

“Quantum theory is one of science’s most thrilling, challenging and even mysterious areas. Scientists such as Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrödinger uncovered bizarre paradoxes in the early 20th century that seemed to destroy the fundamental assumptions of ‘classical physics’ – the basic laws we are taught in school. Notoriously difficult, quantum theory is nonetheless an amazing and inspiring intellectual adventure, explained here with patience, wit and clarity.”
Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100
Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

Space elevators. Internet-enabled contact lenses. Cars that fly by floating on magnetic fields. This is the stuff of science fiction—it’s also daily life in the year 2100.

Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku details the developments in computer technology, artificial intelligence, medicine, space travel, and more, that are poised to happen over the next hundred years. He also considers how these inventions will affect the world economy, addressing the key questions: Who will have jobs? Which nations will prosper? Kaku interviews three hundred of the world’s top scientists—working in their labs on astonishing prototypes. He also takes into account the rigorous scientific principles that regulate how quickly, how safely, and how far technologies can advance. In Physics of the Future, Kaku forecasts a century of earthshaking advances in technology that could make even the last centuries’ leaps and bounds seem insignificant.
Hands-on activityVacuum Pump

This “wine saver” vacuum pump is used in an experiment. Use it to keep your olive oil fresh, afterwards!

This is an OPTIONAL item. It’s only used one time. You can watch the included demonstration video, instead.
The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World
Physics (quantum theory)
The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World

“A highly entertaining exploration of the complicated science of quantum mechanics made easy to understand by way of pop culture.As a young science fiction fan, physicist James Kakalios marveled at the future predicted in the pulp magazines, comics, and films of the ’50s and ’60s. By 2010, he was sure we’d have flying cars and jetpacks. But what we ended up with-laptop computers, MRI machines, Blu-ray players, and dozens of other real-life marvels-are even more fantastic. In The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics, he explains why the development of quantum mechanics enabled our amazing present day.

In his trademark style, Kakalios uses pop culture examples- everything from the graphic novel Watchmen to schlock horror movies of the ’50s-to elucidate some of the most complex science there is. And he brings to life the groundbreaking scientists whose discoveries made our present life possible. Along the way, he dispels the misconception that quantum mechanics is unknowable by mere mortals. It’s not magic; it’s science!”
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
Astrophysics, astronomy

Note: This is a highly illustrated and beautifully photographed step-up from a picture book. Although the information is presented in a way that is easy enough for a younger student to understand, it’s still a book that is rich with info and makes an entertaining and easier read for an older student.
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole

What is a black hole? Where do they come from? How were they discovered? Can we visit one? Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano takes readers on a ride through the galaxies (ours, and others), answering these questions and many more about the phenomenon known as a black hole.

In lively and often humorous text, the book starts off with a thorough explanation of gravity and the role it plays in the formation of black holes. Paintings by Michael Carroll, coupled with real telescopic images, help readers visualize the facts and ideas presented in the text, such as how light bends, and what a supernova looks like.

A BLACK HOLE IS NOT A HOLE is an excellent introduction to an extremely complex scientific concept. Back matter includes a timeline which sums up important findings discussed throughout, while the glossary and index provide a quick point of reference for readers. Children and adults alike will learn a ton of spacey facts in this far-out book that’s sure to excite even the youngest of astrophiles.
Rocket Science for the Rest of Us: Cutting-Edge Concepts Made Simple
Astrophysics, quantum physics, astronomy

Note: Evolution / the Big Bang is mentioned, as well as billions / millions of years.
Rocket Science for the Rest of Us

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

“Want to understand black holes, antimatter, physics, and space exploration? Looking for a common sense guide to quantum physics that you can actually understand? Rocket Science for the Rest of Us is the book you’re looking for! Get a grip on even the most mysterious and complex sciences with Ben Gilliland’s guide to dark matter, exo-planets, Planck time, earth sciences, and more.
You’ll hear yourself saying, “I get it now!” again and again as you explore the fun graphics and clear explanations in Rocket Science for the Rest of Us. Whether you want to impress your friends with your knowledge of quantum physics, finally know what a black hole actually is, or just learn more about the universe that’s all around us, Rocket Science for the Rest of Us breaks it all down so science and physics are easy to understand. You’re not a rocket scientist? So what! That doesn’t mean you can’t understand it!”
Ender's Game
Literature with aspects of physics (gravity-free battles, space flight, etc.)
Ender’s Game

Literature Tie-In

I read this book as a young adult, before it was popular and considered a “new classic”. It was and remains one of my all-time favorites. P.S. It’s WAY better than the movie. 😉

“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut–young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister. 

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.”
Nova: The Fabric of the Cosmos
NOVA: The Fabric of the Cosmos

“The Fabric of the Cosmos, a four-hour series based on the book by renowned physicist and author Brian Greene, takes us to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time, and the universe.”

Here are additional unscheduled books for extra credit, extra reading and/or for those times when one of the above books doesn’t appeal.

These books are intended to be read throughout the year in whatever order you wish. They are optional, but will enhance your physics study and make topics come alive.
The Martian
Note: This book contains cursing / swearing.
The Martian

I really enjoyed this book. There is a LOT of real science in it, including physics. It’s a fun read, but you may wish to preview it, first, as it’s intended for an adult audience. BTW, the book is WAY better than the movie.

“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”
Archimedes and the Door of Science
History, physics and other science topics, math, etc.
Archimedes and the Door of Science

I have this book scheduled in the Actions and Reactions Curriculum, which is for much younger students, as well as Guest Hollow’s High School Chemistry in the Kitchen Curriculum.

If your teen hasn’t read it yet, it’s a worthwhile book! You can schedule it in week 7, or other time during the year.

“Jeanne Bendick, through text and pictures, admirably succeeds in bringing to life the ancient Greek mathematician who enriched mathematics and all branches of science. Against the backdrop of Archimedes’ life and culture, the author discusses the man’s work, his discoveries and the knowledge later based upon it. The simple, often humorous, illustrations and diagrams greatly enhance the text.”
Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time TravelPhysics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel

“Teleportation, time machines, force fields, and interstellar space ships—the stuff of science fiction or potentially attainable future technologies? Inspired by the fantastic worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Back to the Future, renowned theoretical physicist and bestselling author Michio Kaku takes an informed, serious, and often surprising look at what our current understanding of the universe’s physical laws may permit in the near and distant future.

Entertaining, informative, and imaginative, Physics of the Impossible probes the very limits of human ingenuity and scientific possibility.”
Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity!Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity!

This is a terrific book. I didn’t schedule it, as it requires too many special components to do the activities.

If you want to bother buying the necessary equipment (see this supply list), you’ll have a terrific hands-on introduction to electronics that is meaty enough even for high schoolers and interested adults, but easy enough to understand for even your younger students. 

Click here for a sample chapter and more info.
The Physics of Superheroes: More Heroes! More Villains! More Science! Spectacular Second EditionThe Physics of Superheroes: More Heroes! More Villains! More Science! Spectacular Second Edition

“Since 2001, James Kakalios has taught “Everything I Needed to Know About Physics I Learned from Reading Comic Books,” a hugely popular university course that generated coast-to-coast media attention for its unique method of explaining complex physics concepts through comics.

With The Physics of Superheroes, named one of the best science books of 2005 by Discover, he introduced his colorful approach to an even wider audience. Now Kakalios presents a totally updated, expanded edition that features even more superheroes and findings from the cutting edge of science. With three new chapters and completely revised throughout with a splashy, redesigned package, the book that explains why Spider-Man’s webbing failed his girlfriend, the probable cause of Krypton’s explosion, and the Newtonian physics at work in Gotham City is electrifying from cover to cover. 
The Science of Superheroes and Space Warriors: Lightsabers, Batmobiles, Kryptonite, and More!The Science of Superheroes and Space Warriors: Lightsabers, Batmobiles, Kryptonite, and More!

“Before you can start vanquishing bad guys, it’s important to be schooled in saving the world. Packed with quizzes, sidebars, trivia, and more, this sensational book reveals the science behind your favorite superheroes and supervillains and their ultracool devices and weapons, as well as other awesome technologies from the science-fiction realm. Discover:
• Ten Star Trek technologies that actually came true
• Whether Superman would win against Harry Potter
• How new liquid body armor can make us superhuman…and more!”
Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical RealityThinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality

Note: This book is no longer available new. You can read it for free here.

I really like this book, but didn’t schedule it in, as you have to wade through too many math related problems that I thought were beyond the scope of this course. For a student interested in physics, it’s worth hunting through the book for the non-math questions, as they are all very interesting and a worthwhile read!

“Lewis Carroll Epstein explains deep ideas in physics in an easy-to-understand way. Thinking Physics is a perfect beginner’s guide to an amazingly wide range of physics-related questions. The book targets topics that science teachers and students spend time wondering about, like wing lift. Epstein elucidates the familiar but misunderstood — such as how tides work — along with more obscure but fascinating phenomena like the “Bernoulli sub” and the “artificial aurora” created by hydrogen bombs. Broken into many short sections and peppered with Epstein’s own playful hand-drawn illustrations, the book does not simply give the right answer: It also goes into the answers that seem right but are wrong and shows why they are wrong — a rarity in science books. Thinking Physics is a rigorously correct, lighthearted, and cleverly designed Q and A book for physicists of all ages.”
The Science of Star WarsThe Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist’s Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books

“Former NASA astrophysicist Jeanne Cavelos examines the scientific possibility of the fantastical world of Star Wars. She explains to non-technical readers how the course of science might soon intersect with such fantasies as interstellar travel, robots capable of thought and emotion, habitable alien planets, bizarre intelligent life forms, high-tech weapons and spacecraft, and advanced psychokinetic abilities. She makes complex physics concepts, like quantum mechanics, wormholes, and Einstein’s theory of relativity both fascinating and easy to comprehend. The Science of Star Wars does for Star Wars what Lawrence Krauss’s bestselling The Physics of Star Trek did for the Star Trek universe.”
The Physics of Star TrekThe Physics of Star Trek

“What warps when you’re traveling at warp speed? What is the difference between a wormhole and a black hole? Are time loops really possible, and can I kill my grandmother before I am born? Anyone who has ever wondered “could this really happen?” will gain useful insights into the Star Trek universe (and, incidentally, the real world of physics) in this charming and accessible guide. Lawrence M. Krauss boldly goes where Star Trek has gone-and beyond. From Newton to Hawking, from Einstein to Feynman, from Kirk to Picard, Krauss leads readers on a voyage to the world of physics as we now know it and as it might one day be.”
The Manga Guide to PhysicsThe Manga Guide to Physics

Note: I didn’t include this book in the curriculum because it has a bit more math than I wanted to cover in this course. However, for a student who wants more of the math explanations, or enjoys the manga format to review the physics concepts being learned this year, this is a fun book with some great explanations.

In The Manga Guide to Physics, you’ll follow alongside Megumi as she learns about the physics of everyday objects like roller skates, slingshots, braking cars, and tennis serves. In no time, you’ll master tough concepts like momentum and impulse, parabolic motion, and the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration.

You’ll also learn how to:
★ Apply Newton’s three laws of motion to real-life problems
★ Determine how objects will move after a collision
★ Draw vector diagrams and simplify complex problems using trigonometry
★ Calculate how an object’s kinetic energy changes as its potential energy increases

If you’re mystified by the basics of physics or you just need a refresher, The Manga Guide to Physics will get you up to speed in a lively, quirky, and practical way.
Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics: Hollywood's Best Mistakes, Goofs and Flat-Out Destructions of the Basic Laws of the UniverseInsultingly Stupid Movie Physics: Hollywood’s Best Mistakes, Goofs and Flat-Out Destructions of the Basic Laws of the Universe

“-Would the bus in Speed really have made that jump?
-Could a Star Wars ship actually explode in space?
-What really would have happened if you said “Honey, I shrunk the kids”?

The companion book to the hit website (, which boasts more than 1 million visitors per year, Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics is a hilarious guide to the biggest mistakes, most outrageous assumptions, and the outright lunacy at work in Hollywood films that play with the rules of science.

In this fascinating and funny guide, author Tom Rogers examines 20 different topics and shows how, when it comes to filmmaking, the rules of physics are flexible.”
Fear of Physics: A Guide for the PerplexedFear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed

Fear of Physics is a lively, irreverent, and informative look at everything from the physics of boiling water to cutting-edge research at the observable limits of the universe. Rich with anecdotes and accessible examples, it nimbly ranges over the tools and thought behind the world of modern physics, taking the mystery out of what is essentially a very human intellectual endeavor.”
he Cartoon Guide to PhysicsThe Cartoon Guide to Physics

There is quite a bit of math in this book, but it’s entertaining and will reinforce things your student learns via the cartoons.

“If you think a negative charge is something that shows up on your credit card bill — if you imagine that Ohm’s Law dictates how long to meditate — if you believe that Newtonian mechanics will fix your car — you need The Cartoon Guide to Physics to set you straight.

You don’t have to be a scientist to grasp these and many other complex ideas, because The Cartoon Guide to Physics explains them all: velocity, acceleration, explosions, electricity and magnetism, circuits — even a taste of relativity theory — and much more, in simple, clear, and, yes, funny illustrations. Physics will never be the same!”
Pinecone hedgehog

The terrific books on this page are for our Guest Hollow’s Conceptual Physics Curriculum! We invite you to check it out!
Thank You,
The Guest Family
© Guest Hollow, LLC

Guest Hollow's High School Conceptual Physics Curriculum

High School Conceptual (Math-Free) Physics


Most physics curriculums are comprised of thick, boring textbooks that require a firm grounding in higher level math and feature labs that can strike fear in a homeschool parent’s heart. You don’t need to know any higher level math to take this course. This is a CONCEPTUAL physics course for those of you who have students who hate math and love science, or for students who want to learn how the world works via physics by focusing more on the concepts than the math behind those concepts. 

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