Conceptual Physical Science Explorations

Paul G. Hewitt / John A. Suchocki / Leslie A. Hewitt  
Total pages
January 2009
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Conceptual Physical Science Explorations
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Focused on the idea that the rules of the physical world can be taught using a conceptual approach that emphasizes qualitative analysis, the Hewitt team has created a text that is highly readable, flexible, and hands-on. Thirty-four concisely written chapters allow you to better select topics to match your course and the needs of your students in a one- or two- semester course. Conceptual Physical Science Explorations, Second Edition presents a clear and engaging introduction to physics, chemistry, astronomy, and earth sciences. The authors use analogies and everyday examples to clarify key concepts and help students better understand the world around them. The textbook's consistent, high-quality coverage stimulates active learning with critical thinking exercises, hands-on experiments, review questions, and quantitative problems. Conceptual Physical Science Explorations is less rigorous in coverage and written more simply than Conceptual Physical Science, Fourth Edition, and directed primarily to college courses where students are less well prepared, and in some cases, remedial.



The Second Edition features updated content, new Chapter Opening statements, and more.



  • The friendly writing style weaves real-world applications into the text and presents physical science in a way that is accessible to students. The text captures students' attention and motivates them to learn.
  • An engaging art program uses analogies and clear examples to illustrate difficult concepts and reduce student anxiety.
  • Hands-On Explorations, found throughout the book, promote active learning by allowing students to apply concepts they have learned in the classroom. These easy-to-perform experiments, which use common household products, can be conducted at home or during lectures.
  • Concept Checks provide reinforcement of key concepts and test students' understanding of what they have just learned.
  • Calculation Corners help students practice the math skills they need to perform relevant calculations.
  • The Physics Place for Conceptual Physical Science: Explorations website offers a wealth of helpful resources including Interactive Figures, Interactive Tutorials, video demonstrations and lectures by the authors, gradable quizzes, and much more.

New to this Edition

  • The Main Idea statements open each chapter and encapsulate the primary message of the chapter. Students immediately get a sense for the overarching idea they will read about in the chapter.
  • Reading Check questions teach students to pay attention to key points as they read and to pause and reflect on them at the end of each section. The answer to the question is set in bold faced font in the section.
  • Explore! boxes feature simple hands-on activities students can do at home or in the classroom. The activities provide students an interactive way to learn the important concepts covered in the chapter.
  • Link To boxes help students to connect concepts from the book to real world topics such as optometry and entomology.
  • The illustration program features figures hand-drawn by Paul Hewitt that convey at a glance the physical concept being discussed. These simple illustrations are easy for non-scientists to study and understand. Photos are chosen to underscore that science is a human endeavor and often portray classroom scenes of students doing science.
  • End-of-Chapter Review section features a list of key terms and their definitions. Seven different types of problems encourage students to think and respond in different ways to the content, including multiple choice problems, short answer questions, and general review questions.

Table of Contents

1. About Science


2. Newton's First Law of Motion - Inertia

3. Newton's Second Law of Motion - Force and Acceleration

4. Newton's Third Law of Motion - Action and Reaction

5. Momentum

6. Energy

7. Gravity

8. Fluid Mechanics


9. Heat

10.  Electricity

11. Magnetism

12. Waves and Sound

13. Light and Color

14. Properties of Light

15. The Atom

16. Nuclear Energy


17. Elements of Chemistry

18. How Atoms Bond and Molecules Attract

19. How Chemicals Mix

20. How Chemicals React

21. Two Types of Chemical Reactions

22. Organic Compounds

23. The Chemistry of Drugs

24. Nutrition


25. Rocks and Minerals

26. Earth's Interior

27. Plate Tectonics

28. Earth's Surface Features

29. Earth History Over Time

30. Oceans and Atmosphere

31. Driving Forces of Weather


32. The Solar System

33. Stars and Galaxies

34. The Structure of Space and Time

Appendix A. Systems of Measurement

Appendix B. Linear Motion

Appendix C. Vectors

Appendix D. Physics of Fluids

Appendix E. Exponential Growth and Doubling Time

Appendix F. Safety


Paul G. Hewitt


Former silver-medal boxing champion, sign painter, uranium prospector, and soldier, Paul began college at the age of 27, with the help of the GI Bill. He pioneered the conceptual approach to teaching physics at the City College of San Francisco. He has taught as a guest teacher at various middle schools and high schools, the University of California at both the Berkeley and Santa Cruz campuses, and the University of Hawaii at both the Manoa and Hilo campuses. He also taught for 20 years at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, which honored him with its Outstanding Educator Award in 2000. He is the author of Conceptual Physics and a co-author of Conceptual Physical Science and Conceptual Physical Science Explorations (with John and Leslie).


John A. Suchocki


John is the author of Conceptual Chemistry as well as a co-author (with Paul and Leslie Hewitt) of Conceptual Physical Science and Conceptual Physical Science Explorations. John obtained his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University. He taught chemistry at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and then at the Leeward Community College. In addition to authoring textbooks, John is currently an adjunct faculty member at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont. He also produces science education multimedia through his company, Conceptual Productions ( and writes and illustrates science-oriented children's books.


Leslie A. Hewitt


Leslie is also coauthor of Conceptual Physical Science and Conceptual Physical Science Explorations (with Paul and John). After obtaining her geology degree at San Francisco State University, Leslie's interest in teaching broadened to include educating elementary and middle school students. She completed additional graduate work in geography and education, receiving her California State Teaching Certification, also from San Francisco State University. In addition to writing, she devotes considerable time and energy to bringing science education to young people in engaging ways. She is particularly active in her local school district where she works on curriculum development and hands-on science, organizes interactive science fairs, guest teaches, and works with students on connections between scientific concepts and life in the every day world.