Vicphysics Teachers' Network Inc.
Dear *|FNAME|*,

Registration for the Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament is now open.  There is also an added feature of live-streaming of some of the contests.

VCE Lectures for students recommence this week.

There is a link to a very useful article on radioactive waste water in the ocean and there is also a set of articles on the recent story on the whitest paint ever that could keep houses cool.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Wednesday, 5th May at 5:30pm. It will be an online meeting. If you wish to participate, please contact Vicphysics.

Dr Barbara McKinnon (Pres), Sandor Kazi (Vice-Pres), Dan O'Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Deepa Jain (Treas)

Table of Contents
       1. Resources from the Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service
       2. Compendium of Resources from the Vicphysics Newsletters

       3. How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionised Science and changed the World
       4. Release of Fukushima waste water into the ocean: A physics background report

       5. Vicphysics Subscriptions
       6. Physics Teaching Positions
       7. Events for Students        8. Events for Teachers
  • Big Ideas in Physics: A New Scientist Online Lecture Series
       9. Physics News from the Web 
  • Whitest paint ever could keep your house cool
  • Connecting the dots to artificially restore vision
  • Battling Bovine Belching: Measuring methane emissions from cows with physics
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1. Resources from the Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service
Vicphysics held a very successful in-service last Thursday at John Monash Science School.  Resources and presentations from the in-service are now on the website in the open section under Events.  These include:

  • Notes for 12 pracs set up for the participants with an experienced teacher alongside each. The 18 page booklet has information on 12 experiments, either as actual worksheets or as weblinks to other sites.
  • Presentation on Applets for Activating Thinking by Rachel Gore from Albert Park College. A presentation by Rachael Gore from Albert Park College highlighted the value of applets in enabling a deeper understanding, identified several useful sources and discussed in depth the classroom strategies of Project Zero from the Harvard Graduate School of Education aimed to develop a deeper understanding.
  • Preparing students for VCE Physics Exam by Andrew Hansen from Ringwood High School and the Chief Assessor.  The presentation described the marking process, discussed some student answers and provided specific advice that would be of value to students.
  • Assessment and Feedback for VCE Physics by Dr Merryn Gundlach and Dr Syd Boydell from the University of Melbourne.  The presentation covered various methods for assessing student learning, different types of feedback, both directions of feedback and the use of rubrics.
  • Planning resources.  The 36 page package includes a list of practical activities for each Area of Study, course plans for Years 11 and 12 and some activities on conceptual understanding.

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2. Compendium of Resources from the Vicphysics Newsletters
The Vicphysics Newsletter has been running for several years now and in that time there have been many articles that still have currency, as will the ones below in the years ahead.
Such articles have been progressively compiled, so that there are now over 350 short articles that cover 126 pages.
To make it easier to find article of interest, the titles have been catalogued by Area of Study, Teaching Strategies and General interest. All of the Areas of Study have many titles, while most options have several and there are over 40 on strategies.
The list of titles by category and the full set of articles are available at this webpage in the open section of the website.

3. How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner revolutionised Science and changed the World
Winifred Conkling has written a book for students titled How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner revolutionised Science and changed the World'. It is available from most bookshops for about $37 and from Kindle for about $10. Her website has information about the 240 page book and has a teacher’s guide and an essay by the author about writing the book.

The Vicphysics web page on Girls and Physics lists this book and numerous other resources, research, commentary, news stories, images and videos.  This webpage is in the open access section of the website. 4. Release of Fukushima waster water into the ocean: A physics background paper.
The has been recent press coverage of Japan's decision to release waster water from the Fukushima accident into the ocean.  This article on the radioactive contamination of seawater by Prof Goudriaan, a Dutch physics professor published in Europhysics News, is a comprehensive and detailed exploration of the issue, yet accessible to Year 11 students.  It is three pages in length in a two column format.
The article references this chart on human exposure to radiation, which, along with other resources, is on our website in the 'What is matter? webpage in the Teachers section.
This article in The Guardian has a good coverage, as does this one in Science Mag, produced by AAAS.
5. Vicphysics Subscriptions
The free introductory offer has lapsed. To now access the Teachers resources section of the website a paid subscription is required. Details are at the bottom of the home page.

6. Physics Teacher Positions
The Vicphysics Teachers' Network has a Job Ads page to assist schools in finding a physics teacher.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College is seeking two physics teachers.  The closing date is 20th April, 2021.

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and lodge a payment for this service.
a) VCE lectures, 4:30pm, Wednesdays, University of Melbourne
This series of lectures are held on Wednesdays about once a fortnight at a new time of 4:30pm and because of COVID students need to register to attend and they can also register to access the lectures on-line.  For details of the full program check here.

i) Glow in the dark: Using fluorescence to observe DNA in a living cell, 4:30pm, Wednesday, 21st April
Speaker: Dr Liz Hinde, University of Melbourne
Abstract: Dr Hinde explores how we are using fluorescence microscopy methods to visualise how molecules move throughout the 3D DNA network of a living cell. Plus lots of Glow in the Dark demonstrations!

Venue: Lowe Theatre, Redmond Barry Building, Tin Alley, University of Melbourne
To register for audience tickets or to view the lecture online, click here . Registration is required
ii) To be advised, 4:30pm Wednesday, 28th April
iii) Protecting Astronauts from Ionising Radiation on the Mission to Mars, 4:30pm, Wednesday, 12th May
Speaker: Prof Susanna Guatelli (University of Wollongong and 2021 AIP Women in Physics Lecturer)
Abstract: Human missions to Mars have been identified as a main goal of human exploration by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. The roadmap to the human exploration of Mars started with the International Space Station mission about twenty years ago and is envisaged to continue with a human outpost on the Moon and finally with a mission to Mars within the next twenty years.

A human mission to Mars would expose astronauts to serious health hazards, including acute and late risks caused by exposure to cosmic radiation, eventually leading to cancer and death. The design of shielding solutions and of powerful and accurate radiation monitoring systems are subjects of research to facilitate the human exploration of the Solar System.

However, the testing of proposed novel technologies on Earth is limited as there is no facility capable of producing the cosmic radiation the astronauts would encounter in space.

So how do we make sure our astronauts will be safe? Professor Guatelli will be taking students through her research here on Earth.

Venue: Medley Theatre/online, Redmond Barry Building, University of Melbourne

To register for audience tickets or to view the lecture online, click here.  Registration is required

Notes from previous lectures on topics including relativity, electricity and nuclear energy from recent years are also available at the website.

b) Girls in STEM: Empowering Curiosity - Friday, 18th June
An event for girls in Years 9 to 10:
  • An opportunity to be inspired by women who have forged impressive careers in STEAM industries.
  • Engage in hands-on activities to stimulate interest and engagement in STEAM based careers.
This event explore females in STEM careers with an emphasis on the importance of mathematics required for success. Students will hear from leading industry experts in a range of fields about their experiences working in a STEM focused career.
Experts will share their stories; the journey they took, the contributions they have made, the impact of being a female, tips for success, and how to overcome obstacles along the way.
The importance of mathematics in VCE subject selection, university degrees and in STEM careers is addressed. An interactive panel discussion follows the individual presentations.
Students will then engage in two hands-on STEM based activities that require students to be curious and creative, delivered by our supporting partners. One activity includes a hands on engineering experience run by 'Engineers without Borders'.
Please note that morning tea is provided. Teachers and students will need to BYO lunch. (Subject to change according to COVID safe plans)
Venue: Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School 
Cost: $35 /$25 per student. Max 20 students per school
To register: click here . For more information click here

c) Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament - Registrations now open
VYPT is back this year with a number of changes. For those not familiar with VYPT.  It is a competition for students in Years 10 and 11. During Terms 2 and 3, in teams of 3, the students experimentally investigate a common set of three topics, then on Sunday, 12th September in a series of one-on-one 30 minute contests with other teams, they describe their method, explain their findings, and question and challenge the presentations of others.

The topics for 2021 are:

  • Conical Piles Non-adhesive granular materials can be poured such that they form a cone-like pile. Investigate the parameters that affect the formation of the cone and the angle it makes with the ground.
  • Saxon Bowl A bowl with a hole in its base will sink when placed in water. The Saxons used this device for timing purposes. Investigate the parameters that determine the time of sinking.
  • Falling Tower: Identical discs are stacked one on top of another to form a freestanding tower. The bottom disc can be removed by applying a sudden horizontal force such that the rest of the tower will drop down onto the surface and the tower remains standing. Investigate the phenomenon and determine the conditions that allow the tower to remain standing.
These topics are engaging, accessible at different levels, don't require a lot of equipment and not restricted to the science classroom. They are an ideal challenge for keen students.

The features of the competition are:
  • it is team based,
  • focused on experimental investigations and
  • uses oral presentations.
Prizes: There is a prize for every student, with major prizes for top place getters and a trophy for the winning team.
Mentors: This year sees the involvement of university students, who will not only assist teachers on the judging panels, but will be available as mentors to the teams. Teachers will be able to request a mentor for each team when they register.
Venue: University of Melbourne
Registration: This year there is a fee: $20 per team for a Vicphysics subscriber, $40 per team for a non-subscriber.  Registrations are now open and will close on 23rd July, see links to 'Teachers' below. 
Note: One teacher for every two teams needs to be nominated, who will be a member of the judging panels on the day.
Travel Subsidy will be available for regional schools.
Live-Streaming: Vicphysics has received funding from Inspiring Victoria to enable one of the contests in each round to be streamed. The registration form includes a section on approval to be part of the live streaming.

For further details, there are four relevant webpages on the Vicphysics website:
  • For general information,
  • For teachers to register teams, along with advice on planning, including a promotional flyer and a link to the video of Physics Teachers' Conference workshop with a discussion among a panel of teachers who have participated before.
  • For students, with guide questions, hints and links to useful resources.
  • For University students, interested in being judges and mentors.
d) The Exciton Solar Cell Challenge
The special features of the Exciton Solar Cell Challenge are:
  • It is an experimental challenge for Year 7-10 students in teams of 2 - 3.
  • Students construct their own Dye Sensitised Solar Cell (DSSC) using a dye they source.
  • Kits are sent to schools and students complete the challenge with teacher support (20 free kits per school, extra kits are $20 each) and then send in evidence of experimentation.
  • This challenge is best for extension groups and STEM clubs.
  • Prizes and certificates are sent to students upon challenge completion.
  • The challenge is running through Terms 2-4 this year with a very flexible timeline.
The website has sections about key dates, information for teachers, digital copy of resources and a registration link.  The kits sent to the schools has the two more difficult to acquire materials, the rest are common science equipment and chemicals.

When you register you can request a researcher to present an introductory zoom lesson (30 mins) for the students.
8. Events for Teachers

a) Big Ideas in Physics: A New Scientist Online Lecture Series
  • How fast is the Universe growing? with Jo Dunkley, 6pm, 6th May. Prof Dunkley is a British astrophysicist and Professor of Physics at Princeton University.
  • How Time Works with Sean Carroll, 6pm, 3rd June. Prof Carroll is a Research Professor at CalTech.
These talks are held at 4:00am Melbourne time, however a ticket purchase gives you on demand access to the lecture and the Q&A session for 12 months.
Individual tickets are £13 (early booking rate) and there is a 25% discount on the series ticket.

  9.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).

a) Whitest paint ever could keep your house cool

One way to keep cool this summer is to coat your roof with what is claimed to be the whitest paint ever made. Created by engineers at Purdue University in the US, the coating reflects 98.1% of sunlight – shattering the previous record of 95.5%, which is also held by the team led by Xiulin Ruan.  What is more, the paint is a good emitter of radiation at wavelengths that pass very easily through the atmosphere, which reduces the temperature of the coating via a process called radiative sky cooling. This means that the coating can be cooler than the surrounding air.
This link to the abstract of the original article has additional information as well as a graph of emissivity vs wavelength for the paint. This link to an article in The Guardian also provides an excellent description of the technology along with raising questions about its impact.

b) Connecting the dots to artificially restore vision

A team of researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne has developed a retinal implant that transposes images acquired by camera-equipped smart glasses into a simplified, black and white image made from 10,500 pixels. Although it has not been approved for human trial yet, the team has tested the implant in both a mouse model and a dedicated virtual reality program.

c) Battling Bovine Belching: Measuring methane emissions from cows

Cutting methane production from livestock is considered vital to climate change mitigation, with lots of research focusing on how animals breed and are fed. But physicists are playing their part too by developing ways to measure the emissions from cattle, using techniques such as spectroscopic analysis and aerial sampling.

A few years ago, atmospheric physicist Grant Allen and his colleagues were using drones to measure methane emissions from a fracking site in Lancashire in the north-west of England. But next door to the shale-gas operation was a dairy farm and the researchers wondered if they could also measure the methane produced by the cows. So while the animals were in the barn being milked, the researchers flew their drone system in the fields outside.


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Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

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You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list