I had my kids with me at my office and needed to keep them occupied for a small chunk of time while I attended to business.
The younger offspring immediately called dibs on the “Celebrating Chemistry” markerboard.
The elder offspring, creeping up on 9 years old, asked plaintively, “What can I do?”
I scanned my office bookshelves. Given that I am trying to minimize the number of frustrating parent-teacher conferences in the coming school year, I passed right by the Nietzsche. After a moment’s hesitation, I pulled down my copy of David Z. Albert’s Quantum Mechanics and Experience. Handing it to my elder offspring, I said, “Try reading Chapter 1. I’m pretty sure you know all the words in it, and maybe you’ll find it interesting.”
The verdict, 16 pages later:
“This is cool! Can we try to build these devices for measuring the properties of electrons?”
So, the chapter on superposition has my kid really interested in quantum mechanics (or at least, interested in the nature of quantum particles like electrons, and curious about how people can set up experiments to find out more about them). But the challenge is that the second chapter of the Albert book takes up mathematical formalism … and my offspring has not as yet learned how to do math with vectors and matrices (nor to tackle trigonometry).
What’s the best way to move forward from here?
Can the physicists recommend other resources that lay out the distinctive behaviors of quantum-level entities without getting too mathematically complicated? (Tremendous Luddite that I am, my preference would be for written descriptions of these entities and their behaviors, but I could tolerate an animation if it did a good job of conveying the wonders of the quantum world).
Alternatively, are there good resources out there for teaching vectors and matrices to a kid who hasn’t taken algebra yet? (I’m actually fairly confident that I can teach the basic trigonometry — the unit circle is my close personal friend.)
Thanks in advance for your recommendations!