Vicphysics Teachers' Network Inc.
Dear *|FNAME|*,
The July Lectures in Physics have started. There are three more remaining.  This year they are online and in person.  Their website now has videos of past lectures going back to 1991.   There are many fascinating topics that will interest teachers and students alike.

Vicphysics has decided to set up a Tutor Listing Service on our website. If you offer tutoring or you are looking for a place to refer parents who are seeking a tutor, then please check out the webpage on our website.
For private tutors to register, the registration fee is $50, for corporate tutors, it is $100.  This newsletter will include updates on the number of registrations.


The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Wednesday, 21st July at 5:30pm. 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. The Proposed VCE Physics Study Design
       2. Scholarships to do a PhD in Physics Education and Science Education in connection with the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL)
       3. Physics writers wanted
       4.  Establishing a Tutor Listing Service on Vicphysics

       5. Vicphysics Subscriptions
       6. Events for Students        7. Events for Teachers
  • July Lectures in Physics, 6:30pm, Fridays, University of Melbourne. Online via Zoom and In person
  • Talk, Dinner and Catching up, Weds 25th August     
       8. Physics News from the Web 
  • Caution needed when testing Einstein's general relativity using gravitational waves
  • Alien astronomers on hundreds of nearby exoplanets could have spotted life on Earth
  • Solving the proton puzzle: Why the different values for its radius?
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1. The proposed Study Design
The draft of the proposed Physics Study Design has been released for consultation. Copies of the draft and a summary can be found on the VCAA website and on the Vicphysics website.  There is also a questionnaire on the VCAA site. 

A pdf copy of the questionnaire is available on our website . The questionnaire is comprehensive and extensive (35 pages). It may be easier to read the pdf, think about the questions and prepare your responses in your own time and then paste them into the online questionnaire
.

Consultation closes on 3rd August.

 
2. Scholarships to do a PhD in Physics Education and Science Education in connection with the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL)
The Melbourne Graduate School of Education seeks expressions of interest (EOI) from eligible graduates for two PhD positions in Science Education. These two funded PhD projects are a remarkable opportunity to study science education in the context of an international physics research project investigating dark matter. The projects are a component of a larger collaboration between science education academics at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE), the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics and the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL).  SUPL is located 1km underground at the Stawell Goldmine in Stawell, Victoria.

This multi-year international research project incorporates an investment in science outreach with the Stawell community and schools, giving rise to a remarkable opportunity to undertake science education research in a setting that is rare in scale, education investment and provision of access to cutting edge physics research. 

More information about the scholarships is available here
3. Physics Writers wanted
BioBrain Learning is seeking physics writers for their apps. If you are interested, please contact them.
 
4. Establishing a Tutor Listing Service on Vicphysics
Vicphysics is often contacted by teachers seeking a tutor for one of their students.  We also receive similar requests from parents. Sometimes such requests are included in this newsletter. 
A more efficient way of handling such requests is for Vicphysics to set up a webpage on our website where teachers and groups offering to tutor can be listed and those seeking a tutor check the list and initiate contact.
The webpage will list both private or individual tutors as well as commercial or corporate tutors.  There is a registration fee: $50 per year for private tutors and $100 per year for corporate tutors who operate through a website.
Individual tutors can opt to use a Vicphysics message service to receive enquiries from parents, so as to keep their contact details private.
This is the webpage on the Vicphysics website. If you wish to register as a tutor there is a link at the bottom of the page.  Payment of the registration fee is done via the 'My Cart' link on the website which requires a credit card.
This newsletter will regularly include updates on the number of tutors listed.

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.
 

a) VCE Lectures recommence on 21st July, 4:30pm, University of Melbourne
The first lecture for Term 3 is on Wednesday, 21st July.  The topic and speaker is yet to be confirmed. Details will be available here.
Future dates are 4th Aug, 18th Aug, 1st Sept, 15th Sept, 6th October.

b) Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament - Registrations close 23rd July
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.
c) 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.
 
7. Events for Teachers 

a) July Lectures in Physics, 6:30pm, Fridays, University of Melbourne - Online via Zoom and In person

  • Friday, 16th July: The Physical Architecture of Biology with Dr Elizabeth Hinde.

Inside the nucleus of a human cell there is approximately 2 m of DNA folded into a three-dimensional (3D) network and yet intriguingly, only 2 % percent of this DNA is made up of protein-coding genes. The other 98% is noncoding and we still do not know exactly what it does. In recent years a consensus has emerged that noncoding DNA is involved in orchestrating spatial rearrangements in the 3D structure of DNA to turn protein coding genes on and off.

Directly observing this is in a living cell is an immense challenge because DNA structure is well below the diffraction limit of optical microscopy. But thanks to physics breakthroughs, the mysteries of DNA  are no longer invisible.

Dr Elizabeth Hinde will show how physics allows us to uncover in real time the spatial reorganisation of the DNA network that seems to be serving as an epigenetic layer of control for gene expression.
Venue: Basement Lecture Theatre 117, Glyn Davis building, University of Melbourne
To register, click here

  • Friday, 23rd July: How International Cooperation enables Fundamental Physics Breakthrough with Prof Geoff Taylor

As the science of the fundamental building blocks of our universe has evolved, so has the need for larger and larger “atom smashing” machines. The now famous Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN would not have been possible without a highly collaborative approach to big science.

The difficulty of developing and maintaining international cooperation of the scale and timeline characterising the LHC is daunting. It involves continued efforts from scientists, through laboratory and funding agencies, to the highest levels of governments and intergovernmental organisations. All the while, high levels of communication of the needs and benefits of such projects amongst the community is paramount.

This talk will present the ups and downs of building highly collaborative giant particle colliders, past, present and future. Professor Geoff Taylor brings a career of personal experience of such projects to the talk.

Venue: Basement Lecture Theatre 117, Glyn Davis building, University of Melbourne
To register, click here.

  • Friday, 30th July Ahead of their time - Revolutionary Discoveries in Physics made too soon with Prof David Jamieson.

Oliver Heaviside prematurely discovered a fundamental result of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity in 1888 nearly twenty years before Einstein. Ida Noddak explained anomalous results from Enrico Fermi’s experiments as evidence for nuclear fission, but her explanation was dismissed as ridiculous for nine years before it was accepted as correct.

Through this lecture, Professor David Jamieson will look at advances in physics that were ahead of their time and asks: can we identify the premature discoveries of the present day that may shape the future? To find them, should we be looking for a ‘lone genius’ or is scientific creativity more complex than that?

Venue: Basement Lecture Theatre 117, Glyn Davis Building, University of Melbourne
To register, click here

Video recordings of past July Lectures in Physics   This archive has videos of all the lectures going back to 1991.  Some titles that immediately catch your eye are:

  • Physics of Life: What do the laws of Physics say? with Prof David Jamieson
  • Physics of epidemics: helping to keep us safe with Prof James McCaw
  • The physics of the Apollo Moon Mission in 1969: Do astronauts obey Kepler's Laws? with Prof Tony Klein
  • Physics and the Moon: The Double Planet with Prof David Jamieson


b) Talk, Dinner and Catching up, 6:00pm, Weds, 25th August
The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network invites physics teachers and others interested in physics education to gather in an informal setting for a series of dinners with a guest speaker. The guest speakers will address diverse topics touching on curriculum, pedagogy and the discipline itself.  Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in discussion and network with colleagues over dinner. 

The first occasion has been re-scheduled to Wednesday, 25th August at the Auburn Hotel at 85 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn starting at 6:00pm.

The speaker will be Dr Victoria Millar from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Topic: What is the role of physics education and how does that determine the elements of a physics curriculum?

This is particularly opportune with a revised study design to be implemented in 2023.

Dr Millar is a senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Education and has been at the University since 2011. Prior to that she taught Physics in schools in Victoria. Her research interests are in physics and science education, particularly science participation, curriculum and interdisciplinarity.

The cost is $35 ($30 for Vicphysics subscribers) and covers a main course and drinks.

For more details and to book click here.

c) Public lectures on line from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS).
ACEMS has a series of lectures on a diverse range of topics which can be viewed at your convenience.  They include:

  • Uncertainty of wind flow in the environment and its role in bushfire management and renewable energy.
  • (Mis)(Dis)Information in social networks,
  • Modelling the heart,
  • Mathematics of knots, etc

8.   Physics News from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
a) Caution needed when testing Einstein’s general relativity using gravitational waves
Physicists should be wary of data from gravitational-wave observatories that appear to contradict Einstein’s general theory of relativity. That is the message from researchers in the UK, who have analysed how errors accumulate when combining the results from multiple black-hole mergers. They say that current gravitational-wave catalogues contain nearly enough events to potentially generate errors large enough to be confused with signals for alternative theories of gravity.

b) Alien astronomers on hundreds of nearby exoplanets could have spotted life on Earth
 Over the past 25 years astronomers have observed thousands exoplanets – planets that orbit stars other than the Sun. So, it stands to reason that alien astronomers on exoplanets may have observed Earth. Now, Lisa Kaltenegger, director of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute, and astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, a senior scientist at the American Museum of Natural History have created a catalogue of nearly 2000 nearby stars from which an observer on an exoplanet could spot Earth using the transit method.

c) Solving the proton puzzle Why the different values for its radius?
Why were so many physicists so wrong about the size of the proton for so long?  The solution to this “proton radius puzzle” has as much to do with bureaucracy and politics as it does with physics

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