American Physical Society
Smiling student

Information for High School Students

Investigating Physics in High School

High School Course Work

In order to prepare for a career as a physicist, you should continue to take as many math courses as possible. Success in high school mathematics courses is the strongest pedictor for success in college science and math courses.

In addition, take science courses that you find challenging and interesting. The more familiar you are with these different types of science, the more creative you will be in choosing what you want to investigate, understand and innovate in the future!

Investigating Physics Outside the Classroom

"Learn how your world works" at Physics Central.

Read books about physics or by physics.

  • The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene
  • A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking
  • Scientific American magazine
  • Physics Today magazine

Participate in science fairs and contests. Talk to your high school physics teacher for ideas on what is available in the area. Try out for the US Physics Team for the opportunity to participate in the Internation Physics Olympiad. Ask your high school physics teacher to enter your class in the AAPT Physics Bowl competition.

Ask your high school counselor about job shadowing with a physicist. If you live near a college or university, e-mail the Physics department chairperson and ask them if they have any events during the year that would be appropriate for a high school student interested in learning more about physics. They would be glad to share their passion for physics with you! If you need help locating the closest college or university, the American Institute of Physics has a roster of over 800 college and universities that offer degrees in Physics which will help you get started.

Planning for College

There are many free resources available to you that can help you choose a college and help you identify sources of financial support. One place to start is Student Aid on the Web, a website created by the U.S. Department of Education office of Federal Student Aid which provides resources to help you choose a school and find financial aid.

There are a lot of great resources out there, but often it is difficult to find specific details on Physics programs or scholarships for physics majors. When searching for information, you may, at times, want to search for physical science, or simply science in addition to physics. In addition, you may want to check out the Nucleus, a resource for physics students that provides lists of scholarships and student physics clubs.

Physics Feature

Physics Feature Image

High school student Rose Malinow with an optical profiling instrument used in R&D for the LSST.