In-Service and a Mentor Scheme

Vicphysics Teachers’ Network is keen to assist physics teachers whether they be:

  • First Year Outs,
  • Teachers taking Year 12 for the first time
  • Teachers returning to Physics teaching after many years’ absence, or
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take physics.

It usually offers two programs:

i) A a full day in-service program in the 1st Term holidays. The event is free and travel support is available for country participants.

In 2020 it was cancelled because of COVID-19 and replaced by a webinar .  The registration form is below .

In-Service for Beginning Physics Teachers 388 kB pdf

The program for the 2019 In-Service.

ii) The Mentor Scheme. Several retired physics teachers have offered their services to support new teachers. The Network will give them a stipend to meet with the teacher once during Terms 2, 3 and 4 and to be available for phone and email contact. Teachers wishing to participate in this scheme should send an expression of interest containing their contact details and a statement of why they want to be involved in the scheme. The expression of interest should be accompanied by a letter of support from the Science Coordinator or the School Principal. The documents should be either posted to the Vicphysics Mentor Scheme, PO Box 290, Flinders Lane, VIC 8009 or emailed as an attachment to VicPhys with subject “Booking: Mentor Scheme”.
Schools are welcome to fund additional support from the mentor.

Material prepared for the 2009 – 2019 In-Services

VCE Physics Exam Advice – 2014 4.41 MB pptx

A Powerpoint presentation by one of the Assistant Chief Assessors, Andrew Hansen from Ringwood Secondary College, on i) the exam and how it is marked, ii) advice for teachers to assist students when doing the exam and iii) common errors that students make. This presentation was given at the Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service in 2014. There have been course changes and changes to the marking procedures since then, but much is still relevant. Also check the presentation made at the 2016 In-Service

A PowerPoint on Exam Marking and preparing students 1.9 MB pptx

A Powerpoint by Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor, on the the exam marking process and also advice to teachers on preparing their students for the exam. This was presented at the 2016 Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service.

Practical activities over the decades 33.3 kB doc

A table of displaying how the types and descriptions of practical activities in Physics have changed over the last three decades.

Resources and Practical Activities 223 kB ppt

A PowerPoint presentation on i) the different styles of practical activities with examples, as well as discussion of the factors to be considered in planning summary report on practical activities and the practical investigations and ii) the types of physics resources that are available to physics teachers in a range of formats from text to websites.

Possible EPI Topics 36.4 kB doc

A full page list of topics for Unit 3 Motion, Magnetic fields and Electrical energy.

Practical Actvities Categories Worksheet 36.9 kB doc

A worksheet to categorise and evaluate the types of practical activities that your students experience.

Table of criteria for the Practical Investigation 53.8 kB doc

The criteria for the Practical Investigation from VCAA Physics Assessment Booklet have been arranged in a table format for ease of use. Each row contains related comments on a particular aspect e.g. ‘Understanding’ from each of the score ranges, e.g. ‘Demonstrates an advanced understanding of the investigation’ through to ‘Demonstrates a limited understanding of …’. The full text has been broken up, covering the categories of ‘understanding’, ‘hypothesis’, ‘procedures’, ‘safety’, ‘improvements’, ‘data’, ‘records’, ‘presentation’, ‘estimates’, ‘analysis’, ‘communication’, ‘explanations’, each with a separate row.T he table has been updated with a column indicating whether each category can be assessed by the student’s plan, their logbook or the poster.

Exam and Revision Advice 1.1 MB ppt

The PowerPoint presentation has examples of exam questions that students have found difficult with suggestions of strategies to overcome these as well as worked solutions using the strategies. Advice is also provided on revising during the semester and before the exam as well as specific exam strategies.

Responses to Discussion Questions 28.2 kB doc

The program for the in-service included a discussion on question such as ‘What was your biggest surprise in first teaching physics?’ ‘What have you enjoyed most in your teaching?’, etc. These same questions were used in the 1987 Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service. These are their responses.

EPI Handbook for students (for previous course) 117 kB doc

A booklet for students on doing an extended practical investigation for the Motion Area of Study. An extensive list of topics is included, The booklet was prepared by Shane MacLean and Paul Cuthbert while at Kew High School. Note: This was written for the course that finished in 2016.

Sample Course for Units 1 and 2 140 kB doc

A sample course for Units 1 and 2 has been prepared. It includes a possible time allocation for Areas of Study and indeed, for individual dot points, as well as possible activities. The sample course takes the approach of selecting Detailed Studies that relate to the context “Solutions for Climate Change” and finding links to the core Areas of Study.

Units 3 and 4 Course Planning 86.5 kB doc

A week by week teaching program for Year 12 with dates for 2014 and with the content to be covered in each week as well as practical activities. There are different versions depending on which Detailed Study is chosen and in which topic the EPI is done.

TalkPhysics: Examples of the Discussions 36.4 kB doc

‘TalkPhysics’ is a UK website for physics teachers wishing to discuss teaching approaches, share a newly found resources or just seeking assistance. The responses are numerous and prompt, thought provoking and very helpful. This document is a typical example of such discussions. Teachers are encouraged to join, even if you are not based in the UK. See the link below for details.

TalkPhysics: Advice for the Beginning Teacher 38.9 kB doc

‘TalkPhysics’ is a UK website for physics teachers wishing to discuss teaching approaches, share a newly found resources or just seeking assistance. The responses are numerous and prompt, thought provoking and very helpful. One such question was on advice for beginning teachers. Teachers are encouraged to join, even if you are not based in the UK. See the link below for details.

Teaching Electricity 65.5 kB doc

The document outlines one person’s idea of how to introduce the concepts of electricity in Year 11 physics.

Resources on ‘Forces on Passengers’ from VELS site 83.5 kB doc

This document describes the extensive range of information on students’ misconceptions in science available on the VELS website. A summary of one example is included that of ‘Forces on passengers’.

Conceptual Understanding Procedures for Physics 40.4 kB doc

Conceptual Understanding Procedures (CUPs) for Physics are an initiative of Monash University. They are a set of teaching procedures designed to aid the development of understanding of concepts that students find difficult. Check their website below.

Useful Websites for the Beginning Teacher

Physical Science Resources Centre

The American Association of Physics Teachers has a very comprehensive site called Physical Science Resources Centre.

PheT Simulations from Colorado Physics

Open-ended game-like simulations with a clear interface and minimal text. They are free and are based on research into how students learn. Thee are support materials for each as well.

Institute of Physics – Education

The Institute of Physics is a UK organisation that does much for physics teachers. This opening page on ‘Education’ has resources for: ‘early career teachers, teachers returning to work after a break and established teachers new to teaching physics. Their journal ‘Physics Education’ is highly recommended.

ComPADRE: Physics and Astronomy Education Communities

ComPADRE is a US based network of free online resource collections supporting academics, teachers and students in Physics and Astronomy Education. Each of the collections contain materials designed for a specific community. The teacher section has resources fro K – 12 teachers, Physics images and articles to stimulate interest and a link to the highly regarded Physical Sciences Resource Centre (PSRC). There is also an extensive physics education research section. The section for students features tutorials, magazines and career information.

The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)

The AAPT is a very large organisation with a tremendous amount of activities and resources on their website. Go to ‘Resources’, then ‘Teaching’. Enjoy the search. Their journal ‘The Physics Teacher’ is highly recommended.


‘TalkPhysics’ is a UK website for physics teachers wishing to discuss teaching approaches, share a newly found resources or just seeking assistance. The responses are numerous and prompt, thought provoking and very helpful. Anyone can join and there is no cost. Just supply an email address and a password.

Material from the Physics Teachers’ Conferences

The following are relevant files from the presentations at recent Physics Teachers’ Conferences. They include a presentation by Colin Hopkins and presentations by the chief assessors that will assist in preparing students for exams. Also check exam solutions and course planning.

Chief Assessors’ Report of 2011 Exams 1.31 MB PPT

Powerpoint by Geoff Davies and Bruce Walsh, chief assessors for Units 3 and 4 resp.

Chief Assessor’s report on the 2013 Exam 791 kB pptx

Powerpoint by Bruce Walsh, chief assessor for Units 3 and 4 exam.

The Grade Points 45.6 kB xls

A spreadsheet of the grade points for the years 1999 – 2019. The grade point is the raw score cut off for a particular grade. The cumulative percentage of candidates is also included alongside the raw score. The table also has the mean and standard deviation for each exam. The data for each year is added as it becomes available sometime late in Term 1.

The Chief Assessor’s Report on the June and November 2008 Exams 2.12 MB ppt

by Bruce Walsh, the Chief Assessor.

General Marking Principles 42 kB doc

by Bruce Walsh, the Chief Assessor. Distributed at the 2011 Physics Teachers Conference.

The Chief Assessor’s Report on the June and November 2010 Exams 1.63 MB ppt

The PowerPoint presentation by Bruce Walsh, the Chief Assessor.

Powerful Learning Demonstrations 143 kB doc

A document of demonstrations by Colin Hopkins, Trafalgar High School and Rob Braidwood, Balwyn High School. Presented at the 2007 Physics Teachers Conference.

Powerful Learning Demonstrations: Audio 60 kB m3u

Audio of presentation by Colin Hopkins and Rob Braidwood. 60 mins.

Vicphysics Newsletter

Vicphysics distributes an email newsletter to teachers about once a fortnight. Recent editions can be accessed here.
If you wish to receive the email newsletter to advise of a change of email address please contact the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network.